Southeast Library Community Meeting Comments

Southeast Library Community Meeting Comments

Oct. 30, 2018

Southeast Library Community Meeting

You can’t just close our library and tell us to go downtown or to Northeast – we use the building here and we still need services here. You’re just coming in here making decisions without considering us and our needs.

When we modernized the Northeast Library – which shares many characteristics with the Southeast Library – the community agreed to put all their resources into the project. They did not want to spend money on an interim library when that additional money could be spent on the actual library building. Why we are out here this early having community meetings is just for this sort of reason. We will have to look more closely at how this community will access library services while the Southeast Library is closed.
 
I understand that you are creating a building plan for our library that will allow for community input – but are you also creating a programming plan for the building?  Will the community be allowed to decide what sort of programming will take place in the building?

Yes, that is a vital part of how we are approaching this project. We are building libraries that address the needs of the people who use them. The community will have repeated opportunities to respond and comment on the project throughout the planning process – both the design of the building and the services the building can provide.
 
I live on the same block as the library. I know that construction can be disruptive to surrounding properties. Will you inform us of the construction plans and when something particularly noisy or messy is about to happen?

Yes, we will inform you of our plans. You should also know that as we make any of our plans we do so with an awareness of the impact construction work has on neighboring properties. Like Southeast, the Cleveland Park Library has nearby neighbors and I think we did a good job at limiting the impact of the construction work on those properties. You will also have contact names in case there’s something occurring on the construction site that you feel you need to report.
 
Do you know if you will be adding an addition to the library? That building is small in comparison to the size of its lot – I would hate to see the existing building be lost by adding additions to it.

We will address the actual design of the building once we have chosen a design/build team.
 
I live across the plaza from the library, I can see it from my house. For the past few years we have all thought the library would have an underground connection to the Eastern Market Metro Plaza that would include additional space for the library.  Are you saying this is not going to happen?

That design you have mentioned was the work of Amy Weinstein and commissioned by a private group about 5 years ago. It was not a library sponsored design. The library’s design will not include an underground passage and meeting area attaching the library to the plaza. At the same time, I have met with DGS (and will continue to do so) to discuss our plans for the building and their plans for the plaza.
 
Will the library have the same community meeting room?

Again, any design decisions will be made once we’ve got a design/build team in place.  Then we will continue working with all of you to ensure we are designing a library for this community.
 
I have noticed there is a homeless population that regularly uses the library – is something being done to ensure they are part of the plans for the renovated library, that their voices are heard?

We have a full-time social worker on staff to help the homeless find services and programs to improve their lives. In recent years, library designs have changed … and some of those changes have been with the needs of the homeless community in mind … designing a library with good sight lines improves the safety for all our patrons, convenient locations for restrooms, and expanded services and facilities that are accessible to all our patrons.
 
With gentrification, many of the members of this community are under a lot of stress both because of time and money. In the south we are used to accepting pain without speaking up but I think we need to speak up. Changing something, even if it’s making us walk or metro to the next library facility may just be more than we can add to our already burdened lives. I think we need some sort of interim facility while the Southeast Library is closed.

Yes, I think we will look at all our options.
 
Will the community have a say in the look of the renovated library?

Yes, we will work with you in choosing the design/build team. Once that team is in place we will continue working with you as we plan and design the building.
 
Will the RFP spell out the building program?

The RFP is just the beginning of a process, it is a way of finding the right team to work with us to build a unique library for your community. The RFP is the first exchange of information, it describes the sort of project we are planning.  Then once we’ve chosen the architect/builder there will be many more opportunities to exchange information as we work towards a final design for the building. I hope that all of you in this room tonight will continue to work with this team in making decisions, providing ideas that will provide a beautiful library for your community.

Yes, the Councilmember is familiar with this process, having worked with us on the design of the Southwest Library, the RFP is just the beginning, not the end, of the design phase. While this may take a bit longer than how projects were done in the past, it is a way that really allows us all to be involved.

Additional comments sent to DC Library from a member of the community:

Inside: this library is basically useless other than for reserving/returning books from other libraries. The selection is poor and out of date. Homeless sit at the tables all day, leaving little room for actual patrons.
Outside: The building needs to preserved. The area around the library has become a site for loiterers and homeless (library steps and sidewalk). I’ve seen men drinking in broad daylight on the sidewalk. I’ve seen these same people walk down my street in groups and steal packages. While the renovation is being done, this site (not just the building) needs to be secured so that it doesn’t attract more crime and blight. A vacant building with big staircase would be a prime location for this.