DC Public Library: A Framework for Continuing Success

DC Public Library: A Framework for Continuing Success

A Library Services and Facilities Planning Report

Frequently Asked Questions

1)  What is DC Public Library Services and Facilities: A Framework for Continuing Success Report?
DC Public Library Services and Facilities: A Framework for Continuing Success is a report that will include a set of recommendations to help guide the mayor and city council in planning and decision-making for future library capital projects. It is not a facilities plan or a traditional strategic plan. Our hope is that, with input from the mayor, the city council and the public, the report will help provide a strategic direction for the future.

2)  What are the purposes and goals of DC Public Library Services and Facilities: A Framework for Continuing Success Report?
The purpose of DC Public Library Services and Facilities: A Framework for Continuing Success Report is to provide the mayor and the city council with the information they need to make the best possible decisions concerning future library buildings and services; and to organize this information into a set of recommendations that can be applied to future plans for DC Public Library capital projects.

These recommendations were developed in collaboration with the D.C. Office of Planning and with assistance and advice from a nationally recognized team of library consultants, as well as in consultation with library and other professionals across the country and around the world. The recommendations were developed with reference to a comprehensive set of information, including DC Public Library user surveys, national surveys, studies regarding library use and demographic information gathered by the library and the D.C. Office of Planning. The recommendations draw on current best practices as well as forward-looking "next practices" from within and outside of the library world.

In addition to outlining the basic recommendations for decision-making, DC Public Library Services and Facilities: A Framework for Continuing Success Report will include suggestions for ways that new technologies can help the library provide all District residents with up-to-date resources and services; how we can meet the evolving needs of the public in the 21st century; and how we can ensure that access to essential traditional services and materials are maintained in a time of rapid change and challenging economic conditions.

3)  Why is the DC Public Library considering building new buildings and renovating old ones in a time when library hours are being cut and staff positions eliminated? Haven't we just built a number of new libraries?
Yes, we have built a number of new libraries. By fall 2011, 13 new or renovated libraries will have opened across the District. DC Public Library, like many libraries across the country, is facing very difficult economic times, and the mayor and city council have tough decisions to make about how District money is spent. Unfortunately, as a result of budget constraints, we have had to reduce hours and eliminate some staff positions.

We are optimistic that we won't have tough times forever. So it's important to begin the development of a systematic approach to evaluating and determining the future of library services and facilities.  The DC Public Library Services and Facilities: A Framework for Continuing Success Report is the first step in this process.

4)  Who decides when and where new libraries will be built?
Decisions about when and where new libraries will be built are made by the mayor and city council.  The library board can advise and make recommendations to the mayor and the city council, but it does not hold ultimate decision-making power or funding for library construction projects.

5)  What construction projects have been completed recently?
In the past year, the following libraries have opened:
  • Georgetown -- Opened October 2010 (historic renovation)
  • Petworth - Opened February 2011 (historic renovation)
  • Takoma Park -- Opened March 2009 (historic renovation)

Opening soon are:
  • Mt. Pleasant -- Opening Fall 2011 (historic renovation and addition)

Also, design is beginning for a new West End Neighborhood Library as part of a mixed-use development.

6)  When will my neighborhood have a new (or newly renovated) library?
As of this date, the FY2011 capital budget and beyond does not include funds to design and build any additional new libraries.

7)  What are some of the criteria that will be used to plan for future library buildings?
A draft of the recommendations have been finalized and approved by the library board. In addition to accessing them here, the executive summary and recommendations are available in any DC Public Library. The final criteria will depend on the response of the mayor, the city council, and the public to the recommendations made in DC Public Library Services and Facilities: A Framework for Continuing Success Report.

The recommendations reflect the importance of the following, among other elements, in planning future libraries:
  • Considering District-wide as well as neighborhood needs;
  • Ensuring equitable access to libraries for all District residents;
  • Choosing locations with proximity to schools, commercial districts and retail centers, and accessibility to public transportation;
  • Defining the terms and conditions for effective and successful partnerships for co-locations and mixed-use facilities;
  • Designing buildings that are visible and inviting; and that are compliant with environmentally-friendly LEED certification, building code and other requirements;
  • Creating flexible, forward-looking buildings that will anticipate and be able to accommodate to the greatest degree possible future changes in technology and library services.
8)  What is being planned for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library?
While there has been discussion about a relocation or renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, specific plans have not been finalized and funding has not been determined.

9)  How will the public be involved in the planning process?
The library board recognizes the importance of public engagement in this process. As a first step, in winter 2010, a survey was administered on the library's website and available at library locations, asking library users to tell us what is important to them in their libraries. We received about 600 responses, and those responses have been cataloged and entered into the process as input from library users.

A draft of the report has been made available for public review and comment.

Finally, when the final document is presented to the city council, the board will recommend that the City Council Committee on Libraries hold a public hearing.

10)  What can I do to help?
Everyone who cares about public libraries has a responsibility to let elected officials know how important libraries are to communities.

You can help the library by e-mailing or writing to the city council and the mayor to let them know the importance of the library and tell them all the ways it has helped you and the people in your community, and why it is so important to maintain adequate library service especially in these tough economic times.

You can find out more about how you can help by joining the Friends of the DC Public Library.