September 25, 2020 at 5:43 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
MLK Library in D.C. reopens after $211 million renovation project
Bookmen DC, Reading the Rainbow, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday cut a ceremonial ribbon to celebrate the reopening of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library following a three-year, $211 million modernization project.

The MLK Library’s Washingtoniana Division has included for many years the printed editions of the Washington Blade. And the D.C. Public Library system is continuing its partnership with the Blade to digitize the Blade’s 51-year archive.

“We are proud to unveil the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library as a world-class facility in the heart of our city and the crown jewel of a library system undergoing a renaissance,” Bowser said at the ceremony. “Our investments will continue to transform our libraries into beautiful spaces where residents can learn, gather and engage with their community,” the mayor said.

A statement released from the mayor’s office says the MLK Library renovation and modernization project has resulted in a significant expansion in the public space at the building, located at 9th and G Streets, N.W.

Among other things, according to the statement, new features include an auditorium and conference center, a rooftop event space and terrace, dedicated exhibition spaces, a double-height grand reading room, a colorful children’s room and playground slide, a café and patio, and a “creative lab for music production, emerging technologies and a dance studio.”

However, the statement points out that due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the MLK Library will initially offer only limited in-person services. It says access to most of the building’s interior space will be prohibited and visitors will be able to access only the main floor for certain services.

Those services include picking up books that have been placed on hold; applying for a library card, which can also be applied for online at www.dclibrary.org; limited use of computers to ensure social distancing; and a “grab-and-go” system for borrowing books displayed near the checkout desk. Visitors may also ask for a specific book and a staff member will retrieve it, the statement says.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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