Library Plans for Future of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Building

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Library Plans for Future of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Building

Examines ULI Recommendations

May, 24, 2012 – The DC Public Library has commissioned The Freelon Group – the Martin Luther King Jr. Library building’s architect of record since 2010 – and library consultants June Garcia and Susan Kent to develop ideas for renovating and reviving the historically protected Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library building.

"The goal is to see if the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library can be an amazing downtown central library for the District," said Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for the District of Columbia. "When this library opened in 1972, central libraries were seen as research centers, housing the city’s greatest number of books. The District needs a central library where people can do more than research; where they can connect, create and innovate and where technology is available to assist them."

The Urban Land Institute’s report was based on the assumption that a downtown central library needs 250,000 square feet.  An important part of Garcia’s and Kent’s work will be verifying this assumption.  They will look at how much space currently supports the library’s public service and how people use the library. They will also look at how central libraries in other major cities are changing to meet the public’s needs.  Based on this review, the consultants will make recommendations to the library on an ideal size for a central library in the District. 

Susan Kent and June Garcia have both served as directors of large public library systems in the U.S. and have worked with libraries and librarians on projects in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. They also worked on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Libraries under Mayor Anthony Williams.
The Freelon Group will explore how the building can be configured to share space with other tenants.  They will examine whether two floors can be added to the building, separate entrances can be created to accommodate additional tenants and the building can house separate mechanical systems for multiple tenants.  Because the building is a historic landmark, The Freelon Group will work with the D.C. Historic Preservation Office and follow historic design guidelines developed by EHT Traceries.

The results of the work will be available in the fall and be used to continue the conversation on the future of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library building with District residents, city leaders and other stakeholders.