Trustees Hire Urban Land Institute to Advise on MLK Library

October 31, 2011
contact Robin Diener
202 431-9254

Trustees Hire Urban Land Institute to Advise on MLK Library

Washington, DC — 
The DC Public Library issued a press release on Friday formally announcing the hiring of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to lead a panel to “to review and assess the value” of  MLK Library, and to “make recommendations on how to leverage the value of the building to benefit the District of Columbia.”

The ULI will receive $120,000 in payment from the Library, out of its capital budget.

Earlier this month, MLK faced closure on Sundays due to a shortfall of $318,000.

Two days before the first scheduled closing, Mayor Vincent Gray located monies to keep the central library open on Sundays, at the urging of Libraries Committee Chair Tommy Wells, and numerous other individuals and groups.


Sent from Robin Diener
Director, Library Renaissance Project

1530 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

202 431-9254

Election, Accomplishments, and Future Priorities featured at Annual Meeting of Federation of Friends of DCPL

At its Annual Meeting on October 20, the governing board of the Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library elected new officers, reviewed past activities, and prioritized future ones amid an atmosphere of high accomplishment.

Chief among the Federation’s achievements were an inaugural “Preview” event that kicked off the Citywide Book Sale in September, a second year of financial support for Summer Reading programs, and a thorough revision of the group’s bylaws.

  • The Citywide Book Sale was augmented for the first time by book donations and volunteers from Friends groups across the city. The Preview event raised $4500 in two hours on a rainy Thursday, and was much enjoyed as an occasion to bring Friends groups together.
  • Funds from the Preview will go to DCPL’s 2012 Summer Reading programs.  The Federation supported programs with $27,000 in funding from local Friends groups in 2011.
  • A thorough revision of the bylaws included the creation of a new executive officer position of Membership Secretary and designated the alternating of officer elections in odd and even years.

President Susan Haight of the West End Library Friends, and Secretary Wendy Blair of the Literary Friends of DCPL were both re-elected.  Acting President of the newly formed Friends of MLK Library LaToya Thomas was elected to the newly established position of Membership Secretary.

All terms run for two years.  However, per the new changes to the bylaws, elections will now alternate — with the aforementioned positions to be elected in odd years, and the Vice President and Treasurer in even years.  Rosalyn Christian of Friends of R L Christian serves as Vice President of the Federation.  Robert Hass of the West End Library Friends is Acting Treasurer.

The governing board consists of designated representatives from each member Friends of the Library group.  The Federation has active participation from most of the library system’s 24 branches and the MLK central libray, as well as citywide groups like the Literary Friends, and also welcomes non-voting associate members like the Library Renaissance Project.

Officers of the Federation of Friends of DCPL:

  1. President:                           Susan Haight, West End Library Friends
  2. Vice President:                   Rosalyn Christian, Friends of R L Christian
  3. Secretary:                           Wendy Blair, Literary Friends of DCPL 
  4. Treasurer (acting):              Robert Haas, West End Library Friends 
  5. Membership Secretary       LaToya Thomas, MLK Library Friends

Federation website:



Mayor Gray Finds Funds to Keep MLK Open on Sundays

For Immediate Release

Mayor Vincent Gray’s office Friday announced that Sunday hours at the MLK Library would not be cut.  The central library had been scheduled to close on Sundays for the coming fiscal year beginning this weekend October 2. (Press release from Mayor’s Office at link below.)

A rally to protest the closure will become an occasion to announce the restoration of funds. The Library has invited the public to a celebration on Sunday at 1 pm at the MLK Library. Council member Tommy Wells and Mayor Gray are expected to be on hand.

Wells, the newly assigned chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks, Recreation and Planning, took the lead in publicly pressing the Mayor to reconsider a move that would have left the District without any Public Library open on Sundays. All neighborhood branches libraries have been closed on Sundays since 2009.

The Federation of Friends of the Library — a citywide advocacy group — also played a large, ongoing role in the restoration. Members from across the city testified at budget hearings and lobbied insistently behind the scenes.  During their Citywide Book Sale Preview at MLK on September 8, Wells was publicly asked to keep the building open.

A few days later, at the Board of Library Trustees meeting, Wells vowed to “do everything in my power” to find the money to keep the MLK library open on Sundays. At a breakfast meeting with the Mayor and  DC City Council a few days ago, Wells pointedly raised the subject, causing a tweeting furor by reporters that further raised the profile of the issue.

One day later, the DC Federation of Civic Associations issued a resolution calling for the Mayor to “reverse this decision.”

Over the last several years, the city has spent approx $180M in capital funds to rebuild or restore 14 libraries throughout the city, while at the same time severely cutting library operating funds.

“This is the first step towards reversing the cuts in library hours sustained in recent years.  We should commit to keeping these valuable buildings in operation as many hours as possible — a relatively small cost — to fulfill the promise of a costly building program that is succeeding in bringing patrons back to the libraries in droves,”   said Library Renaissance Project Director, Robin Diener.

“The new libraries have dramatically increased usage. That was the goal in building them. We have to support that.”