Comments from MLK Library Community Meetings

Comments from MLK Library Community Meetings

Compilation of comments from eight city-wide meetings

In November and December 2016, the Library hosted eight meetings around the District to share the near-final designs for the modernization of MLK Library. Below is a compilation of the comments we received at those meetings. There were a total of 125 participants at the eight meetings.
Put a lot of outlets along the windows and at other seating.

Use a quiet flooring material.

For those of us who have young children, the proposed improvements are amazing. Curved lines and making it more of a destination will be tremendous in getting our young citizens to love the central library. It is real investment in the city.

As a heavy user of the library, I love the audio production space. I hope you plan on keeping that feature in the new library.

The Library is my church. I want to put a plug in for the memory lab. As a serious artist, I need to get more serious about archiving my work. How do we stay in touch and find out what the more detailed plans are for those services.

This is very beautiful. In terms of change and making sure the change is representative of Martin Luther King Jr. Continuity of institutional knowledge is important. Over the years, I have come to very interesting events/meetings at MLK. I hope that institutional memory doesn’t get lost. Maybe encourage folks to come record their memories of the building.

Get people to get materials out of their attics and have it archived at MLK. There is a lot of history and ephemera out there. We need to collect it and catalog it and make it available to share.

I am very concerned about Special Collections and access during the renovation. My understanding is that a majority of the materials will be in storage. Some will be available on call. Those of us who use it to make a living do not think this is anywhere near enough. We want full access.

I’m excited about the Library Express in Faragut. Could you have something like a Food Truck that would drive around D.C. and provide services?

Services for the homeless – MLK offers easy access from anywhere in the city for people who are out of work or need job training/resume assistance. When it comes to lifeline services for vulnerable people, how will those services be provided during the renovation?

I always thought the presence of homeless people at MLK Library was an aberration. What is the plan long-term from the library’s point of view for dealing with homeless customers?

You should really consider having hand rails on both sides of the grand staircase. This is also a safety issue, because in a fire, if you are not on the main floor, you have to evacuate down the stairs.

Places that are meant to be accessible should be on the ground floor. People with disabilities are going to have the hardest time getting out in an emergency.

Overall, the design is great.

I hope the elevators will have the capacity to move people to the auditorium quickly. The current elevators are slow.

In the expanded children’s room, will there be computers for adults or will all the adult computers be in the Digital Commons? I have seen libraries were there are computers for parents to use while their children read/play in the children’s area.

When I first started going to MLK Library, I got lost in the stairways/hallways. It looks like the seating is vastly increased, which is really exciting.

I think the idea of having a place for parents to sit is a good one. Parents don’t want to sit on a one-foot high stool.

Need a range of seating heights. The Barcelona chairs are too low for older folks.

How are you going to cultivate excitement about the new central library? How will you use the three years to make people to want to see the new building as a community destination?

The Library doesn’t talk very much about the architect, Mies van der Rohe. I think it is important to highlight him.

One way to honor Dr. King might be to create a small Library within a Library. Create a small beautiful room that has copies of the books from Dr. King’s personal library. It could be a quiet place for people to study.
If you were to use the front space in the popular library, perhaps you could do roll up doors to open the front of the building or find some way to display/engage with customers around media. Montreal State Library has a great indoor-outdoor space that draws visitors.

Instead of having one artist create a static art piece that will be there for 20 years, maybe consider creating an opportunity for changeable art exhibits. Static exhibits become stale after time.

I’m not sure about creating such a large children’s room space. Not sure it is going to draw that many families.

Are you going to try to sell naming rights for things like the reading room? It might be a good source of revenue.

The element of play and playfulness could really enliven the public art spaces. Art that could be touched or would engage children would be great. Maybe even something you can climb on.

I like the idea about keeping part of the library open longer hours.

Consider keeping the central library open on certain holidays.

I would hope there would be an honest evaluation of the library program. Learn from what was done with the neighborhood libraries. What worked? What could be done better?

I heard a rumor that you were going to create huge electronic billboards. You’re not doing that are you?

I hope the building will have environmentally sustainable features to make it more energy efficient.

I am disappointed in the outreach DC Public Library did to spread the word about this project. In particular, the Library did not do enough outreach to the Spanish speaking community in D.C.

Be sure to include multi-lingual programs and services for non-English speaking customers. Be sure to have multi-lingual directional signage as well.

I’m impressed by the designs. I have 2 children, I never take them to MLK Library because I don’t feel safe. My initial take is that you have done tremendous work to make this library more welcoming and safe. I commend your efforts.

I appreciate that on the main floor, you have maintained the look of the current building. On the upper floors, it is disappointing that you have changed it to look more like an office building in the Netherlands. I don’t like the way you spoke about this building, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Please think about the historic nature of the building when selecting finishes.

I salute you for incorporating and designing for people with disabilities.

My comments are about signage. My feeling is that the current building just looks like another D.C. office building. Many people don’t realize the current building is a library. What are you going to do to make it more clear that the new building is a library? Can you add exterior signage?

You describe the process as collaborative. Yet you devote 20,000 square space to community alliances, but right now you only have a handful of spaces filled. When I asked you in May 2015 you said you didn’t know who you were partnering with yet. If you want to get permits, you are going to have trouble. You have not done outreach.

I’m really interested in the books. Are there going to be stacks? It just seemed like books were an after thought. For ten years, I’ve been watching the books disappear. I’d like to know how many books we have now compared to how many we had 10 years ago.

The Friends of the Mount Pleasant Library is in full support of the current design, including putting the auditorium on the upper level. I think it looks great.

I am really happy with most of this. You were able to get a lot of what you wanted in this. But from where I stand, we were not able to have a voice. We can actually hold this back. We haven’t had input in our community.

I am probably the only person who is offended by the gigantic stairways. There are paltry numbers of people with disabilities at this meeting. I wish you would refrain from saying that stairways are inspiration.

One concern I have is there is a lot of traffic flow/gathering, but a library also needs to have quiet. How will the acoustics work so that noise doesn’t travel?

I live across the street. I am curious. Is there a plan for street closures, parking restrictions, cranes on the building? When will all of that be available?

I still don’t see why you think locating the auditorium on the 4th/5th floor instead of the lower level is preferable.

I am an arts/event coordinator. A 300 seat space, with an outdoor space adjacent to it will be used all the time. It is fantastic. No one wants to use downstairs. A library is for more than just books. It is a meeting space. A community space. The space will give the building more light.
I live and work in this neighborhood. I helped organize the ANC for this neighborhood. We meet in the lower level. One problem we have is that we have nowhere to store papers and sound system. Will there be a locker room that entities that regularly use space in the building can store materials? Can you try to fit that in?

Community information could be more visible in the Library.
I like the new seating area under the MLK mural. The cut-out humanizes the vast space in the Great Hall
I hope there will be jobs for D.C. residents in the new library. Please consider creating internship opportunities for students at UDC.

The glass partition on the roof worries me. It is out in the open and dangerous to kids

What are we going to do to honor Dr. King and his legacy in the Library? Maybe you should show footage and film and speeches from Dr. King.