Road to MLK Future

Road to MLK Future

MLK Library is Closed; New Library Opens in 2020

Take a virtual tour of the MLK Jr. Memorial Library Modernization.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, D.C.’s central library, has closed for three years to undergo a major modernization. The library will reopen in 2020.

Visitors to the renovated flagship building will enjoy a new, inspiring and transparent entryway; sculptured monumental stairs; large auditorium and conference center; creative spaces for fabrication, music production and art creation; ground level café with patio; double-height reading room; large, interactive children’s space; expanded special collections space for researchers and local history enthusiasts; and a roof top event space with terrace.

The MLK Library, once the $208 million transformation is complete, will become the center of activity for the already vibrant downtown area. The modernized library will reopen in 2020 with more than 100,000 square feet of additional space for the public.

The DC Public Library is committed to offering library services during construction, especially those services that are unique to the MLK Library. The overall renovation budget must cover both the costs for the new library and costs for temporary services. Therefore, the library cannot replicate all central library services during construction.

Below are plans for interim services as the library embarks on the Road to MLKFuture.

Learn more about the MLK Library modernization at

Books and Other Library Materials

  • Most items from the MLK Library collection continue to be accessible.
    • All titles in good condition unique to the MLK Library are available either at neighborhood libraries or by placing holds. 
    • DVDs, CDs, large print books and paperback books and magazines are available at neighborhood libraries.
  • Library users can continue to pick up holds at any neighborhood library. Learn more about holds pickups locations.

Library Express, 1990 K St. NW
(Entrance for Library Express is on 20th St. NW between K St. and I St.)

Library Express is a small, retail location that is providing some specialized services.

  • Adult Literacy Resource Center, Computer Lab, Center for Accessibility
  • Holds pick up and small collection of popular books and other library materials.
  • Public computers including accessible computers.
  • Computer Training Lab

Special Collections (Washingtoniana and Black Studies)

Washingtoniana Reference and Photo Services are available by appointment at the Special Collections interim service location. Please see the Special Collections Interim Access and Services page for more information or sign up for our newsletter for updates.

The Labs

  • The Memory Lab is now open at the Northeast Library, 330 7th St. NE. Services are by appointment.
  • The Studio Lab is open at the Shepherd Park (Juanita E. Thornton) Library, 7420 Georgia Ave. NW. Services are by appointment and include audio recordings and post-production for video, audio and music. Music recordings are not available.

The Fabrication Lab will reopen in Summer 2018 in the NoMa neighborhood and at the Reeves Center at 14th & U St. NW.

Learn more about The Labs.

Social Services
The DC Public Library provides support to many of the District’s most vulnerable populations.

Individuals experiencing homelessness

  • Staff at neighborhood libraries have received additional training and support to accommodate increased traffic at these locations.
  • The Library is partnering with day shelters to provide library service in shelters.
  • Coffee & Conversation, a program for people experiencing homelessness, is being offered at several neighborhood libraries.
  • The D.C. Department of Human Services has arranged for transportation to be provided from 6:30 a.m. - 8 p.m., Monday - Saturday, on a loop beginning at 801 East Men’s Shelter (2700 Martin Luther King Ave. SE) and stopping at the following locations each day:
    • Adams Place Day Center, 2210 Adams Place NE. Individuals can access case management services, laundry facilities, showers and computers, as well as eat breakfast and lunch on-site. The Day Center also offers connections to employment services and help with housing. 
    • Minnesota Ave. & Benning Rd. NE. Individuals can take advantage of employment services at the Department of Employment Services, access computers and other library services at the Benning (Dororthy I. Height) Library and health care services at the Unity Health Care Clinic.
    • Church of the Epiphany,1317 G St. NW. The Church of the Epiphany operates as a transit point for downtown destinations. Individuals can access bathrooms and water at the church and wait in the courtyard. 

The DC Public Library is expanding outreach through a newly created Outreach Department to provide services throughout the city beyond the library locations.

The MLK Library housed several short- and long-term partnerships. Here are plans for these partners while the library is renovated.

  • College Information Center – offers services in select branch locations.
  • Community Tax Aid – Tax preparation services will continue at another downtown location by appointment. Customers can call 202-869-2999 or make an appointment online at
  • AARP – offers tax assistance in select branch locations that will continue.
  • Capital Bikeshare – has been relocated.
  • DC HealthLink Enrollment Center – will be relocated beginning November 2017 to Shepherd Park (Juanita E. Thornton) Library.
  • DC Tech Meet up – has been suspended.
  • Tango Pratica – will be offered at Southwest and Petworth libraries.
  • Co-working partners – has been suspended.

The DC Public Library is housing administrative, support and storage functions at various locations throughout the area.

  • Administrative Office, 1990 K St. NW
  • Operations Center, 1709 3rd St. NE
  • Newseum storage facility, Laurel, MD

Some operational functions, such as public safety officers and janitorial services, will be deployed to select branch locations.

(Last updated: May 2018)