The D.C. Public Library has completed a three-and-a-half-year, $211 million renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, and the critics are loving it. The main branch boasts dramatic art, winding staircases and a rooftop garden. There’s even a slide in the children’s reading room.
But the re-opening of the main branch comes in the midst of a pandemic and unprecedented challenges for public library system.
Some librarians say branches opened prematurely and put staff and patrons at risk. Others worry that the libraries, which often serve as a safety net for those who lack shelter and computers, haven’t provided enough for District residents in need and won’t be able to support students forced to learn online during the coming school year.
We talk to DCPL Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan about how the library is trying to live up to the challenges of 2020.
Produced by Lauren Markoe