Road to MLKFuture

Road to MLKFuture

MLK Library Closed; Interim Services Began on Monday, May 8, 2017

View the final designs for the MLK Jr. Memorial Library Modernization, beginning spring 2017.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, D.C.’s central library, closed March 4, 2017 for three years to undergo a major modernization.

Interim library services began Monday, May 8, 2017.

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.

It is expected to take up to two months to move out of MLK Library and begin interim services. Construction will begin in the summer. 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 will be available at the 25 branches throughout the city.
  • A retail location, "Library Express" will open to provide some services, including Adult Literacy Resource Center, Computer Lab, and Center for Accessibility.
  • Operating hours will expand at all branch locations.
  • Special Collections, including parts of Washingtoniana, will be available at partner organizations.
  • Public computers will be available at Library Express, and all branch locations including a new computer instruction lab at Capitol View Library that opens fall 2017.
  • The Labs, which include the Fabrication, Memory and Studio labs, will be 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 will be available during construction 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 will be available at branch locations.
  • Library users will be able to 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
Extended hours at every library location -- all branches will 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 will be dispersed to branch locations to accommodate increased traffic.
  • The renovated Capitol View Library will re-open in fall 2017 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)

  • The majority of the special collections will be accessible including all of the archival collections with finding aids that help users search for items.
  • Some unique maps, microfilm, Historic Image photos and Washington Star photos will be available at the Historical Society of Washington, 801 K St., NW.
  • The Library plans to have archival materials with finding aids such as the Lemon and Mary Hine Correspondence and Petworth Women’s Club collections, and the Julius Hobson papers, delivered upon request to the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. SE.
  • The Library plans to have some materials delivered upon request to the Georgetown Library Peabody Room.
  • Operating Hours
    • Historical Society of Washington – BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: Tuesday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and one Saturday per month, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    • 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 will move to Northeast Library, 330 7th St. NE. Services will be by appointment.
  • The Studio Lab will move to the Shepherd Park (Juanita E. Thornton) Library, 7420 Georgia Ave. NW. Services will be by appointment and will include audio recordings and post-production for video, audio and music. Music recordings will not be available.

Plans for the Fabrication Lab are still being finalized.

Special Events and Programs
The central library is host to several special events including author talks, festivals and performances, and programs such as classes and workshops. Some programs, such as the weekly film series and the book clubs, will be suspended during construction. Here are plans for events and programs that will continue.

Relocated to other venues

  • DC Author Festival
  • Sing, Talk & Read Family Festival
  • Fringe, including punk rock shows
  • Author talks and signings
  • DC Reads
  • DC Public Library Foundation’s Uncensored cocktail party and Storytime gala
  • American Sign Language classes
  • Assistive technology classes
  • Talking Book Club
  • English Conversation Circle
  • Jazz in the Basement
  • House History workshops
  • Adult education professional development workshops
  • Books & Bars
  • A Feel For Books

Social Services
The DC Public Library provides support to many of the District’s most vulnerable populations. Many of these services are provided out of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

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 and held at the MLK Library, 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 houses several short- and long-term partnerships. Here are plans for these partners when the library closes.

  • 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 – will be suspended.
  • Tango Pratica – will be offered at Southwest and Petworth libraries.
  • Co-working partners – will be 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: May 4, 2017)