Mar 22, 2023 - News

Southeast Library renovation will send patrons a mile away

A little free library in Hill East, which is served by the Southeast library. Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The D.C. Public Library system is preparing for a multi-year renovation of the Southeast Library that will send people to another quadrant for many services.

Why it matters: The renovation, which will expand the historic library underground, means patrons will have to go to the Northeast Library for interim services, spokesperson George Williams tells Axios. But some community members are unhappy with the solution.

Yes, but: Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner David Sobelsohn tells Axios the Northeast Library, which is just under a mile away, isn’t close enough for library patrons and doesn’t have enough parking around it.

  • "It’s a lot to ask of somebody who’s mobility impaired, a senior citizen, somebody with kids," he says.

Sobelsohn says the community wants what patrons of the Southwest Library had when it was closed for renovations: A trailer in the neighborhood that served as an interim library. But Williams says a trailer isn't doable because of budget reasons, and because there's no easy location to put it.

The other side: The Northeast Library won’t be the only option for Southeast patrons, Williams says. A weekly story time for children will be held at 700 Penn Building and a monthly adult book club will be held at East City Books.

  • Other sites in the neighborhood are also being scoped out for more programming, Williams says.

What we’re watching: DCPL Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan told Sobelsohn in an email earlier this month the library plans on holding more meetings to discuss details of interim services and to meet with some community members directly about how construction at the library may impact them.

What’s next: No date has yet been set for the library’s closure, but DCPL is targeting this summer with a reopening in spring 2025.


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