Road to MLKFuture

Road to MLKFuture

MLK Library is Closed; New Library to Open in 2020

View the final designs for 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.

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 will not be able to replicate all central library services during construction.

Here is the plan for interim services as the library embarks on the Road to MLKFuture.

Learn more about the MLK Library modernization at


  • Many services and items are available at the 25 branch libraries throughout the city.
  • A retail location, "Library Express" is providing some services, including Adult Literacy Resource Center, Computer Lab, and Center for Accessibility.
  • Operating hours have expanded at all branch locations.
  • Special Collections, including parts of Washingtoniana, are available at partner organizations.
  • Public computers are available at Library Express, and all branch locations including a new computer instruction lab at Capitol View Library when it re-opens following a renovation.
  • The Labs, which include the Fabrication, Memory and Studio labs, are being modified and relocated.
  • Braille and Talking Book collection will continue to be mailed to homes.

Books and Other Library Materials

  • Most items in the MLK Library collection will be accessible.
    • All titles in good condition unique to the MLK Library are available either at branch locations or by placing holds. Selection of these titles is based on condition, whether they are available in hardcopy and frequency of use.
    • DVDs, CDs, large print books, and paperback books and magazines currently at the MLK Library that are in good condition are available at branch locations.
  • Library users can continue to pick up holds at any library location. 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.)

  • 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
  • Operating hours:
    • Monday - Thursday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
    • Friday - Saturday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, Closed

Expanded Hours at Branch Libraries
All branches open at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday mornings.

  • Operating hours for most locations:
    • Monday - Thursday, 9:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.
    • Friday - Saturday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, 1 - 5 p.m.
  • An additional 50 laptops have been dispersed to branch locations to accommodate increased traffic.
  • The Capitol View Library, which is being renovated, will re-open with 44 public access computers including a computer instruction lab.
  • The new 20,000 sq. ft. West End Library is currently scheduled to open in fall 2017 as well as a renovated Palisades Library.

Special Collections (Washingtoniana and Black Studies)

  • Archival materials with finding aids such as the Lemon and Mary Hine Correspondence and Petworth Women’s Club collections, and the Julius Hobson papers, can be delivered upon request to the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. SE.
  • Some materials can be delivered upon request to the Georgetown Library Peabody Room.
  • Operating Hours
    • Library of Congress – Newspaper and Current Periodicals Reading Room, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    • Georgetown Library Peabody Room – Monday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. and second and fourth Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Collections through DigDC, and electronic subscriptions such as The Evening Star will continue to be available online at

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.

Plans for the Fabrication Lab are still being finalized.

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

Individuals experiencing homelessness

  • Staff at neighborhood libraries are receiving 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 Benning (Dorothy I. Height), Mt. Pleasant, Northeast, Northwest One, Shaw (Watha T. Daniel), Southeast, Tenley-Friendship and West End 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 Dorothy Height/Benning Road Library, and health care services at the Unity Health Care Clinic.
    • Church of the Epiphany,1317 G St. NW. The Church of the Epiphany will operate as a transit point for downtown destinations. Individuals can access bathrooms and water at the church and wait in the courtyard. 

Video visitation

  • The video visitation service for families of individuals in the D.C. Jail will move from MLK Library to Capitol View Library when it re-opens fall 2017 after a renovation. The service remains at the Anacostia Library and Deanwood Recreation Center. Hours for video visitation at the Anacostia Library have been extended.

The DC Public Library is expanding outreach by creating an 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 – will offer 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 – currently 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 will house 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: July 7, 2017)