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Government and People
The Mayor's Task Force on the Future of the District of Columbia Public Library System
The District of Columbia needs a vastly improved public library system for the 21st century, combining new high-tech physical buildings with “virtual” branches in cyberspace.
The Mayor’s Task Force on the Future of the District of Columbia Public Library System is calling for a new central library to replace the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, an outmoded structure erected long before the advent of the digital age. The Task Force also recommends a complete overhaul of the branches, with all of them either completely rebuilt or drastically renovated.
A new central library building would cost an estimated $280 million, with a three-year construction period. This does not include site acquisition costs. The improvements to branch libraries have a price tag of about $167 million.
The DC Public Library System must make other investments to provide DC residents with state-of-the-art facilities and world class service. For example, the library system needs another four hundred computers connected to the Internet to give DC residents the same ability to go on-line as citizens of other cities of the same size.
The current system, despite the hard work and dedication of the library staff, is faltering.
The library does not send out overdue notices, and the current records of what is actually in the collection are considered highly unreliable. This requires a major overhaul: 50% of the collection should be replaced over a three-year period. The proposed rebuilding cost for the collection would be $1.1 million for FY 2006-2007; $1.15 million for FY 2007-2008; and $1.125 million for FY 2008-2009.
The Task Force recommends these six key service priorities for the revitalized library system:
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM: A BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE
The Mayor's Task Force on the Future of the Public Library System
Mayor Anthony A. Williams
A Blueprint for Change
The District of Columbia needs a dramatically overhauled public library system for the 21st century, combining new high-tech physical buildings with “virtual” branches in cyberspace.
The system must be rebuilt to serve the people of Washington, to be a safe and inviting place for learning and a welcome site for community gatherings.
This vision of the new District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) system shall serve the imagination of the youngster just learning to read, the teenager looking for the latest in novels, music and literary inspiration, the high school dropout who wants to come back and complete an education, the adult pursuing life-long hobby, the retired senior citizen who wants to plan a trip or check on a consumer product. The public library gives all of them access to buildings filled with traditional books as well as entree to the unlimited vastness of the digital world. It is a marriage of bricks and mortar with cyberspace.
A new system needs a new central library to replace the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, an outmoded structure erected long before the advent of the digital world. And a modern system requires a complete overhaul of the branches, with all of them either completely rebuilt or drastically renovated. For many branch libraries, it will be more efficient to construct a new building rather than attempt to refit the existing structure for new service priorities and technology.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams foresees a capital library for a capital city, something worthy of Washington’s people, and its rich history. But quality and modernization are not cheap. A new central library building would cost an estimated $280 million, with a three year construction period. This does not include site acquisition costs. A new branch system has a price tag of about $167 million, replacing most of the current branches with state-of-the-art buildings to serve the city’s diverse neighborhoods.
WHY CHANGE MUST COME
As most consumers realize, the public libraries of the District of Columbia are faltering. With every day that passes, the DCPL falls further behind other municipal library systems in providing residents with the kind of quality service that can spark imaginations, generate hope, and change lives.
Hours of operations were slashed in 2003 and are only gradually being restored. Computers are far too scarce for the citizens who must work, learn, and play in this digital age. The library system needs another four hundred computers connected to the Internet to give DC residents the same ability to go on-line as the citizens of other cities of the same size.
The library does not send out overdue notices, and the current records of what is actually in the collection are considered highly unreliable. Many of the items on hand are outdated in terms of knowledge or physically worn and tattered. This requires a major overhaul: 50% of the collection should be replaced over a three-year period. The proposed rebuilding cost for the collection would be $1.1 million for FY 2006-2007; $1.15 million for $2007-2008; and $1.125 million for 2008-2009, with further purchases made for opening day collections as new facilities come on line. In addition, annual increases to maintain the quality of the collection should be should be boosted by $350,000 a year, starting in the 2006-2007 fiscal year, with future spending linked to inflation.
A VISION of a BETTER FUTURE
It would be reasonable to assume that the center of democracy, the Nation’s capital, would have a model library system. A revitalized public library system could effectively address some of the challenges that face far too many residents of the District. Nearly 37 percent of District adults are functionally illiterate. Almost 41 percent of District high school students drop-out of school. More than 70 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading. Over 20 percent of all adults, 25 years of age or older do not have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate. Effective public libraries offer programs to help children succeed in school, support the efforts of residents to earn their GED, and sponsor classes that teach adults how to read.
Urban libraries in Los Angeles, California, Miami, Florida, Nashville, Tennessee, Phoenix, Arizona, Queens, New York, Salt Lake City, Utah and Seattle, Washington, just to name a few, provide their residents with state-of-the art facilities and world class service.
First rate libraries provide story times for toddlers, a safe haven for children, newspapers in foreign languages, book discussions, and literacy classes for adults, ample copies of best sellers and quiet places to dream.
Seattle, Miami, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Nashville faced many of the problems that exist in the DCPL system today. Through the efforts of residents and leaders of these cities, the public libraries were rejuvenated. The new central library in Seattle brought more than $16 million dollars of new money into the city. The Miami-Dade Public Library system renovated branch libraries and now provides tutoring on Saturdays to more than 3,000 students. After Salt Lake City built a new central library, circulation increased by 78% at the central library, and circulation increased by 36% at branch libraries.
The Mayor’s Task Force on the Future of the District of Columbia Public Library System (Task Force) visited these libraries, looked at their best practices, debated and discussed services, and now offers to District of Columbia residents a set of proposals to begin a dialogue about the magnificent new library system that DC deserves.
GOALS for a NEW DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM
Here are the prime service priorities for a revitalized public library system in the District of Columbia. It should focus on these key priorities. The Task Force recommends that the DCPL system focus on meeting community needs in six key areas:
The new central library that will replace the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library will actively provide services associated with each of the six service priorities that are recommended by the Task Force. However, it is neither appropriate nor possible for each branch library facility to provide wide-ranging services in all six of the service priority areas.
Branch libraries do not have enough space or resources to provide the six service priorities. Instead, each branch library must focus on the needs of the residents in the service area of that branch. This could mean that one branch might allocate most of its resources to Homework Help and Basic Literacy, while another branch might allocate most of its resources to Lifelong Learning, and Information Literacy.
The DC Public Library has a responsibility to address the need of residents to learn to read. The library should continue to encourage the use of library facilities for literacy classes, tutoring, and literacy tutor training. It should join with community organizations to respond to the needs of community residents who are illiterate. The library should offer or co-sponsor classes to help learners prepare to take their high school equivalency diploma exam.
DCPL should increase efforts to recruit and train literacy volunteers. There should be an abundance of computer workstations with educational software that learners can use to improve their reading skills.
BEST SELLERS and HOT TOPICS
DCPL should respond to patrons’ interests in popular cultural and social trends by providing a current collection with sufficient copies of titles in high demand to ensure customer requests are met quickly.
DCPL residents should be able to reserve books online, and then receive an e-mail notice to come and pick up the books. The library system must offer materials in many formats (hardback book, paperbacks, books and magazines in large-print, DVDs, CDs, audio-books on CD, e-books, etc.) and in the languages residents want and need.
These materials should be selected primarily on the basis of local demand which will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.
To provide fast service for hot topics and best sellers, the library should shelve all new books and media materials within 24 hours of being returned to the owning library. DCPL should develop and maintain a user-friendly Web site that provides information about new books, music, and movies in the library collection.
The DCPL can play a unique role in helping school age children succeed in school. DCPL should partner with the D.C. public school system, public charter schools, and various community organizations to help school-age children succeed in their studies. The library should provide informational resources and assistance that furthers the educational progress of students. To help bridge the digital divide, DCPL needs to provide Internet access for children and teens and should also offer access to other instructional technologies such as multimedia computers with educational software, and educational media.
DCPL should provide group study rooms, or study areas, and computer laboratories for students working together or working with tutors. DCPL should also install long-distance education and video-conferencing equipment in designated facilities.
DCPL should address the needs of residents for skills related to finding, evaluating, and using print and electronic information effectively. The library should provide training and instruction in skills related to using information resources of all types – print and electronic. DCPL should also provide training on how to write research papers and oral presentation skills.
The DCPL should address the needs of residents, from the youngest toddler to the oldest retiree, for self directed personal growth and development opportunities.
The library should help parents and care-givers encourage preschool children to develop a love of reading and learning so children can enter school with the skills that they need to succeed. Each library building should have a warm, welcoming, and child-friendly toddler area that includes a collection of attractive picture books, board books, and media materials of interest to preschool children. Computers should be available for toddlers, complete with educational software to encourage vocabulary development and motor skills and to stimulate the imagination. In addition to story times for children, DCPL should develop innovative programs that encourage children to read.
The library should develop and maintain non-fiction collections of books and non-print materials on topics of most interest to residents of all ages.
There should be special collections on subjects of historical or cultural significance to the residents of the District, and exhibits on a wide variety of topics that are of interest to local residents.
While the entire collection can be seen as supporting Lifelong Learning, the non-fiction collections, in print and digital formats, are typically the most critical. DCPL should provide indepth resources in areas of special interest to District residents. This would include information about medicine and health care, employment opportunities, and operating a small business.
The DCPL has a responsibility to address the need of residents to meet and interact with others in their community. There is a great need for the DCPL to provide inviting and safe public spaces for meetings, programs, and gatherings.
There should be at least one meeting room or conference room in every library where the building is larger than 7,000 square feet. Each library meeting room must have cable access for public viewing of major national events and other events of local interest. The library should collaborate with the Department of Parks and Recreation and other District agencies to promote and provide programs of interest to children, teens, adults and seniors. It should form partnerships with local clubs and community organizations to present topical and current interest programs.
The library system has a dedicated and hard working staff. The professional librarian ranks have been restored gradually after severe cutbacks several years ago. But there are far too few clerks, para-professionals and other support personnel, compared with the levels of staffing at other library systems in cities of comparable size. If librarians are doing support work that other people could be doing, then the librarians are not being used effectively. If support work is going undone, then the success of the library is jeopardized.
The DCPL should review the current staffing pattern of relatively few support staff in public service units. Where appropriate, adjustments should be made as soon as possible to improve service effectiveness and cost efficiency.
The dearth of part-time positions, especially in the branch libraries, can lead to overstaffing during periods of light service demand and understaffing during periods of heavy service demand. Part-time positions - librarians and support staff - are widely used in most public libraries for efficient and effective staffing to meet public demand. Public demand has predictable cycles that are related to time of day and day of the week. The cycles of public demand also includes types of customer use and workload levels.
In general, branch library staffing patterns replicate many of the issues that exist at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. The issues include the ratio of librarians to clerical support staff and the need for increased use of part-time staff and para-professionals.
With the new DCPL emphasis on services to support literacy and provide homework help, staffing patterns may need to be modified to include more staff with computer and electronic resource technical skills and skills for helping children complete homework assignments. The new service priorities will require a focus on training current staff members in addition to hiring individuals with the requisite skills in the latest technology.
COMPUTERS AND TECHNOLOGY
More than 360 computers linked to the Internet have been added by DCPL in the past several years, bringing the total to 511 in FY 2004. Despite recent impressive gains in number and capabilities of computers available to the public, the library remains significantly below the average number of public access computers per capita compared to other library systems in its population group. The DCPL system has an immediate need for 400 additional computers with public access to give DC residents the same opportunities as people in other cities.
The library needs a substantially increased budget for computer repair and maintenance demanded by heavy public use of computers. The average lifespan for a computer in a public library is just three years.
Computers should be abundant and located in convenient locations throughout the library. Computers intended for the exclusive use by school-age children should have age-appropriate software, keyboards, and furniture.
Wireless access should be provided in all facilities so patrons who have their own computers or Web enabled devices can access library resources without using a library computer. Wireless access would also make it possible to offer computer training, using laptop computers, in those facilities that do not have a computer lab.
All computers should be appropriately configured for speed and graphics that provide users with easy access to electronic resources. They should also permit the downloading of licensed digital content to devices such as a customer’s personal storage device, such as a Personal Digital Assistant or MP3 player.
Computer training should be available in each library facility, either by the addition of a computer lab or the ability to connect to a wireless network via laptop computers. This includes training sessions on locating, accessing, and evaluating information, training on how to organize and present information in reports, PowerPoint presentations, or public presentations and training on how to create a Web site.
There should be a partnership with community organizations that offer job-training programs to ensure that students who need to learn computer skills have an opportunity to develop the necessary computer skills for employment.
DCPL should provide a computer lab in as many facilities as possible. These labs should be located in areas of the library that will allow library customers of all ages to use the computers when classes are not in session. In some facilities, it might not be possible or desirable to allocate space for a computer lab. In these facilities, consideration should be given to installing a wireless network and then using laptop computers in the meeting room or another location in the building to offer computer training.
Whenever possible, DVDs should be purchased with closed-captioning that can be turned on by library users who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
The VIRTUAL BRANCH
DC residents with access to computers should be able to go on-line and enjoy all of the resources of the DCPL, making a home, school, or office a virtual branch of the DC Public Library.
Modern public libraries have automation systems that support their service priorities. Such systems provide enriched catalog content and facilitate the online placement of reserves by customers. Library automation systems should also allow customers to create personal profiles and be notified electronically (by phone, text message, email, etc.) of new library acquisitions, upcoming library programs, and notice of overdue materials.
Accurate and up to date bibliographic and patron databases also are important to effective service. A “virtual branch” is fast becoming a necessary “facility” for successful public libraries serving large populations. A virtual branch is so much more than a user-friendly Web site that only provides access to the online catalog and information about library hours, locations, and programs. A virtual branch can be a full-service location for searching licensed electronic databases, getting answers through an interactive reference service, downloading digital books and audio-visual content, using learning software, and participating in online programs such as presentations and discussions about books and topics of current interest. Also, items in the library’s physical collections can be shipped to the user-with fees charged to the user’s account or credit card.
The library should encourage library borrowers to establish personal profiles indicating topics of interest to them, and then alert each borrower, via email or SMS (short message service), when new items arrive or planned programs fall within the customer-identified areas of interest.
The library should license digital content and make it available to registered borrowers both in the library and from home. E-books, digital audio books, videoon-demand, and other digital content should be available for downloading to a customer’s personal computer, PDA, or MP3 player.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? A LISTENING CAMPAIGN
In order to build a library system that is responsive to the needs of District residents, it is vital that residents have an opportunity to discuss the recommendations of the Task Force and express their expectations of the public library. DCPL needs to know which service priorities should be emphasized in each library. Some communities might want more emphasis on current bestsellers, such as the latest Harry Potter novel, or on tutoring adults who are learning to read. Other communities might want more emphasis on helping children succeed in school. An important next step is for residents to have an opportunity to articulate their vision of the 21st century library.
The vision will vary from resident to resident. For a recent immigrant, the vision may include newspapers that are in his native language or classes in English as a second language. For a senior citizen the vision of a state-of-the art library could include an exhibit of photographs of Washington, D.C. during the 1950’s or a weekly book discussion group. The sharing of ideas between patrons and the library is a process of give and take. For a library to be vibrant, it must respond to the needs of patrons.
To revitalize the District’s public libraries, a listening campaign must be launched. During the listening campaign, citizens should receive information about best practices in library services. Information on the types of services that are offered by exemplary libraries will provide residents with a framework for articulating the types of services that DCPL should provide.
The views of residents that are expressed during the listening campaign should be used to shape the programs, facilities, and technology that are offered in the District’s public libraries. Listening sessions should be held throughout the city. Listening sessions should not be limited to a onetime event that is held in each ward in the District. The Task Force learned that prior to improving the central library and branches; the Seattle Public Library conducted more than one hundred listening sessions throughout the city of Seattle. The planning process for the new central Salt Lake City Public Library included more than one hundred and fifty listening sessions with residents. The District of Columbia should conduct a similarly aggressive listening campaign. In addition to the listening sessions, there should be focus groups to ensure that a representative sampling of District residents have an opportunity to express their views on desired library service.
FUND-RAISING and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
A successful library system enjoys the support and active help of dedicated and engaged citizens, who work to expand the resources of the libraries. Most exemplary library systems include a vital library foundation that serves as a key entity in soliciting individual, foundation, and corporate gifts and grants. Library foundations support and enhance all aspects of library functions, operate supplementary cultural or educational programs, and mount capital or endowment campaigns. The District of Columbia Public Library Foundation works to carry out these vital tasks.
Successes in other cities provide vivid illustrations of the fruits of a partnership between a public institution - the library - and private citizens - the volunteers.
Since 1941, the Friends of the Seattle Public Library, a volunteer private group, sponsored projects and expenditures that extend “beyond the command of the ordinary library budget.” The Friends of the Seattle Public Library has a membership of 13,000. The Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library promotes awareness of the library in the community and raises money for library projects through the semi-annual book sales held in the spring and fall of each year. The Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library also operates a retail shop at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library.
The Seattle Public Library Foundation raised $82 million for library construction and endowments. More than 22,000 people have made donations to the Seattle Public Library Foundation, including gifts of $22.5 million from Paul Allen and $20 million from Bill and Melinda Gates. Paul Allen and Bill Gates grew up using the North East Branch of the Seattle Public Library system.
The new Seattle central library has become an economic engine for the downtown area. The Seattle Public Library Foundation and the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development recently funded an economic benefits assessment research project by an independent consulting firm. The report showed that the new central Seattle Public Library is responsible for $16 million in net new economic activity in its downtown neighborhood during the first year of operation. If this level of interest in the library is maintained, in part aided by additional investments suggested in the study, the new economic activity for Seattle would reach $80 million for 5 years, and $160 million for a 10-year period. “The foot traffic and cultural vitality the Library brings enhances the marketability of Downtown and nearby neighborhoods as residential and commercial markets,” the report noted. “The new central library also raises Seattle’s profile and attracts tourists, knowledge workers, and high technology industries,” according to the study.
The new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library could provide a similar engine of growth for its neighborhood.
The DC library: Current Problems, Future Visions
The DCPL system is composed of 23 facilities. This number includes the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library and 22 branch facilities . In addition, four branch libraries closed in December 2004 for rebuilding. Interim facilities are planned for these four closed libraries.
Residents throughout the District use DCPL facilities. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library draws users from across the District and also serves as a neighborhood library for adults and children in its immediate vicinity. Many of the areas with the lowest percentage of residents who borrow library materials are located east of the Anacostia River. The DCPL offers a variety of services to the residents of the District. Each branch library strives to address the needs of residents in its respective market area.
Services offered by the DCPL include physical and electronic collections, telephone information services, a mobile services unit for senior citizens, services for the deaf, a system-wide community information service, a video lending service, mobile service for children at licensed family daycare providers, and many programs and activities to inform, educate, and enrich the public. The DCPL also provides services for the blind and physically handicapped persons, the homebound, and the institutionalized. In addition, spaces are provided in most libraries for reading, studying, and group meetings and programs. Some libraries have spaces allocated for tutoring and training in computer and software skills.
THE CENTRAL LIBRARY
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library houses the in-depth and special collections owned by the DCPL system. The staffs of the subject departments and special collections assist users in identifying and locating items and obtaining needed information. The computer laboratory has classes in basic computer use and skills in using a variety of software applications. Also provided are collections and services tailored to the needs of audiences such as children, teens, and persons with special needs. The library also houses the District of Columbia Center for the Book and a DCPL store that sells used books and DCPL logo merchandise.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library subject department and special collections are: Art; Audiovisual; Black Studies; Business, Economics, and Vocations; Children’s Room; History and Biography; Language and Literature; Music and Recreation; Periodicals; Newspapers; Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion; Popular Library; Sociology, Education, and Government; Technology and Science; the Black Studies Collection; the Illustrators Collection; the Washington Star Collection; and the Washingtoniana Collection; and Young Adult Services.
MAKING A NEW CENTRAL LIBRARY
The design and construction of a new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library provides a unique opportunity for the District of Columbia and DCPL to address some of the most pressing needs of the residents of the District. The new central library will serve as a visible statement about the value of reading, education, and lifelong learning. A central library is a key civic space that residents use throughout their lifetime. As a result, the central library should be beautiful, exciting, effective, and efficient. People use public libraries to: get homework help and support their formal educational efforts; learn to read; pick up a best seller, a DVD or CD; browse for new and classic publications; experience the joy of story hours; obtain information for themselves for personal and business pursuits; learn how to use a computer; access the Internet; get away from it all; be around other people; attend programs; view art and other exhibits; participate in meetings; engage in group or individual learning activities; read newspapers and magazines; or just relax.
The design and layout of the new Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library must support the service goals that are established to address the needs of District residents.
The new central library should have a carefully designed Literacy Center. In the center, specially designed rooms would be available for family and adult learning, including classes and spaces for small groups and one-on-one learning activities. Learning laboratories include instructor stations, computer workstations, digital projection equipment and ceiling-mounted projection screens. Multipurpose spaces would support small group instruction and presentations to a range of group sizes. Learning stations could provide space for individual learners using computer software for language and reading practice.
Why a new central library?
The current seven-story, 433,036 square-foot building was designed and constructed before computers became a key resource in meeting current and future needs for library services. The basic problems with the central library facility include the inefficient use of space; inflexible interior brick walls that deter space reallocation; the inappropriate location of spaces (such as the auditorium); ineffective vertical transportation due to the location of elevators and stairs; inadequate sight lines that hamper visual supervision and security throughout the building, a building design that makes it difficult to install technology; inappropriate lighting levels in many areas; sterile and formal interior spaces; inefficient staff work areas; inconsistent temperature control throughout the building; and poor maintenance of basic building systems, furnishings, and equipment.
A Few Questions
A new central library will benefit everyone—when it is established. Before the new central library is created, much planning must be completed.
Many factors affect decisions about which services and spaces are provided in a central library. Primary factors include service priorities and programs. Some of the factors include site size and shape, building height regulations, size of collections, future growth needs, and options for locating support functions in a different facility, operating costs, and the available capital budget. Before decisions can be made regarding a new central library to replace the present Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, many questions must be answered and incorporated into a detailed building program statement for use by planners and designers. A few of the hundreds of questions to be asked are included in the following list:
THE BRANCHES PROBLEMS AT the NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARIES
Only five of the branch libraries that are currently open were designed and constructed after computers began to be a key resource in providing library services. Issues related to the installation and use of computers in older buildings include providing access to electricity and telecommunications in areas away from walls, lighting requirements that differ from reading areas, avoiding glare on the screens from outside light, and space requirements that are greater than those for typical seating at tables.
All of the DCPL branch libraries have a minimum of two levels, with many branch libraries having three levels. Some of the oldest buildings have four levels. Branch libraries with multiple levels generally require more staff for operation and have more security issues than single level libraries. Most of the DCPL’s existing branch libraries are candidates for replacement, due to many years of deferred maintenance, multi-level design, lack of planning for modern technology, and the general inefficient use of floor space. Deferred maintenance issues include roofing systems, HVAC systems, and electrical systems that have not been replaced or updated as needed. Also, multi-level buildings require more staffing and security monitoring than most single-floor facilities.
HOW the BRANCHES OPERATE
The DCPL offers a variety of services to the residents of the District. Each branch library strives to address programs and activities that inform, educate, and enrich. In addition, the DCPL provides spaces in most libraries for reading, studying, and group meetings and programs.
Some libraries have spaces allocated for tutoring and training in computer and software skills. All of these services are offered to adults. Most branches have computers with basic software applications and links to the Internet. Many of the DCPL services are provided to children, from preschool through the eighth grade. Books for pleasure reading and audio/visual media play a major role in the collections and services.
The Adult Basic Education Materials Center has collections of easy-to-read materials for adult learners as outreach services focus on persons who are blind, visually impaired or learning disabled, homebound, living in homes for the aged, or other group living sites; and the hearing disabled.
The larger neighborhood libraries offer distinct areas for use by adults, teens, and children.
Some branch libraries have computer laboratories in which basic skills are taught in the use of computers, software applications, and the Internet. Space in the public areas of many libraries can be used by tutors and their students.
The size of DCPL’s neighborhood branch libraries ranges from approximately 7,000 to 30,000 square feet. The size of community branch libraries ranges from approximately 1,400 to 1,600 square feet. The Deanwood kiosk is 150 square feet.
All DCPL libraries offer print collections for borrowing, access to electronic resources, and reference materials for in-library use. All DCPL libraries have staff to assist users with the selection of materials and to respond to questions from patrons. Public access computers, linked to the Internet, are available at all DCPL libraries, except the Langston branch and the Deanwood kiosk. All libraries have limited media collections, except for the four community libraries and the Deanwood kiosk. The larger libraries, those with 6,965 to 29,796 square feet, offer distinct areas for use by adults, teens, and children with collections that are separated for easy access by users. Circulating items not available at branch libraries, but owned by the DCPL, can usually be requested for delivery to a branch library.
There are no formal computer laboratories in the branch libraries. However, three branch libraries, Lamond-Riggs, Petworth, and Washington Highlands, have Homework Help Centers, which contain computers, in their public service areas. Staff at Homework Help Centers assist children with homework assignments, and informally assist students with basic computers skills that include utilizing software applications and the Internet. Most branches have spaces for library-sponsored programs that can also be used by community groups. The libraries that do not have at least one meeting room are Langston, Parklands-Turner, R.L. Christian, Sursum Corda, and the Deanwood Kiosk. Twelve branch libraries have collections of easy-to-read materials for adult learners as well as pre-GED and GED materials. These collections are in the Capitol View, Lamond-Riggs, Northeast, Petworth, Southeast, Southwest, Washington Highlands, and Woodridge branches.
Four libraries temporarily closed for rebuilding (Anacostia, Benning, Watha T. Daniel, and Tenley-Friendship) also have collections that support literacy. These collections are similar to, but of smaller size, than that of the Adult Basic Education Materials Center in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library.
In 2005, the average age of the 22 DCPL branch libraries was 46 years. The Juanita E. Thornton / Shepherd Park facility, constructed in 1988, is the newest branch library. All other branch libraries were constructed before 1970. The four branch community libraries (Langston, Parklands-Turner, R. L. Christian, and Sursum Corda) were constructed in the early 1980’s.
The amount of space in branch facilities varies greatly. The Deanwood Kiosk has 150 square feet. The R. L. Christian and Sursum Corda community libraries have 1,400 square feet, on single floors. The West End neighborhood library, with 29,796 square feet, is the largest branch facility.
The design and construction of a new branch library provides a unique opportunity for the District and the DCPL to address some of the most pressing needs of District residents. In addition, the rebuilding and renovation of branch libraries makes a visible statement about the value of reading, education, and lifelong learning. A branch library is one of the few local government services and civic spaces that residents use throughout their lifetime.
WHAT NEW BRANCHES CAN DO: EXAMPLES IN OTHER CITIES
In the library system serving Miami and Dade County in Florida, the Model City Branch is the largest and busiest branch. In addition to its attractive decor, it houses a spacious meeting room, two literacy computers to enhance reading and writing comprehension, two multimedia computers with word-processing capabilities, the online catalog, Internet, and databases for newspapers and magazines. The Model City Branch Library is part of a governmental complex known as the Joseph Caleb Community Complex which houses an auto tag agency, driver’s license office, court services, a Human Resource Services office, County Commissioner and State Senator offices, a daycare center, and a large auditorium for social and entertainment events.
The Hispanic Branch in Miami-Dade serves a neighborhood where 90% of the residents are Hispanic. There is a collection of 60,000 items, 80% of them in Spanish, with emphasis on literature, history, and linguistics. The juvenile collection focuses on students’ needs and literacyin Spanish and English. The adult collection includes special clipping and pamphlet files focusing on Hispanic culture. The Spanish reference collection is particularly strong and is used by students, general researchers, and scholars. Dictionaries and encyclopedias represent Latin American and European Hispanic culture. The Cuban collection includes a number of rare books.
The Hispanic Branch also emphasizes English as a second language with books, audio books, videocassettes, and language instruction materials. Over fifty magazines in English and Spanish are available, as well as a bilingual video and book/cassette collection. Free programs include language and citizenship classes, Social Security information services, and a variety of cultural presentations for all ages. The Hispanic Branch has access to the Internet and other computer programs in English and Spanish. The bilingual staff has close ties with the community.
The Miami-Dade Public Library System builds libraries in shopping centers. The Doral Branch is located in the Doral Isles Shopping Center, a strip mall that includes a grocery store, a barber shop, and a coffee shop. The Miami-Dade Public Library System believes that it is important to make it convenient for patrons to visit the library.
The South Shore Branch is located in an apartment building. While the South Shore Branch is only 1,400 square feet, the space is effectively used, with most of the space allocated for computer terminals. Task Force members observed that the architecture of the Edison Branch was similar to many of the branches of the D.C. Public Library System. The Edison Branch was recently renovated at a nominal cost, with renovation focused on painting and installing computer terminals.
In the New York City borough of Queens, the Langston Hughes Branch of the Queens Borough Public Library reflects the culture of the African-American community that surrounds the library. The Langston Hughes Branch has a large community room that is constantly in use.
The Flushing Branch of the Queens Borough Public Library has a large immigrant constituency; as a result the Flushing Branch has a large international collection. The Flushing Branch also has an English-as-a-second-language lab.
Branches as "IDEA STORES"
In the United Kingdom, the community of Tower Hamlets and the Tower Hamlets College entered into a partnership to provide facilities and services that would enable local residents to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market and to raise the local standard of living by creating “Idea Stores” to enhance educational and training opportunities in Tower Hamlets.
The seven Idea Stores currently in operation combine the best of library service with the lifelong learning and career development courses traditionally associated with community colleges. Located in bright, new buildings in local shopping areas, the Idea Stores are places where the entire family can use a wide range of services and enjoy a safe and welcoming environment. Parents and children can learn together with other families in stimulating surroundings, relax in a quality cafe, take in an art exhibition or music performance, do homework, take a course, meet friends, and simply have fun.
Residents, age 16 or older, can take courses to learn a new skill, get fit, or explore a topic of interest. Over 900 courses are offered on subjects such as childcare; cookery; creative arts, dance and music; health and fitness; information technology; languages; and textiles and fashion.
In Tower Hamlets, the “Idea Stores” aim to bring the best of public library service to a wider audience.
Branch libraries must be designed in such a way that people passing by in a car, in a bus, or on foot become aware of the building and are attracted to enter and use the facility. The branch must present an open, inviting, and attractive front with a clearly visible entrance. It is recommended that, where possible, the branch library be a single story building with a minimum of 20,000 square feet.
A branch library is a civic building that will be used at least fifty to seventy-five years. Therefore, materials used for the facade, as well as for the structure and interior, should be durable and easily maintained.
The branch library must be able to reconfigure access to electrical and telecommunications service as well as the locations of electronic equipment. The design must allow easy adaptation due to rapidly changing technologies throughout the life of the building. An in-the-floor grid system will provide the greatest flexibility for electrical service and telecommunications distribution.
The design and construction of a new branch library provides a unique opportunity for the District and the DCPL to address some of the most pressing needs of District residents. Effective facility design dictates and the layout of the branch libraries in the District of Columbia must support the service goals that are established to address the needs of District residents.
The Learning Centers service at the Brooklyn Public Library is a library literacy program serving adult beginning readers and writers at five library sites, pre-GED students at nine sites, and ESOL (English as a Second Language) students at 14 sites. For beginning readers and writers, free instruction is offered by more than 100 trained volunteers working under the guidance and supervision of a full-time professional staff. Each center is equipped with up-to-date book and materials collections, as well as state-of-the-art technology, to meet the needs of adults who are striving to improve basic skills. The learners range from non-readers to about a fifth grade reading level. The pre-GED and ESOL programs employ part-time teachers to provide 6 hours of instruction a week.
At the Learning Centers, reading and writing happen in every session. Students write first drafts alone or in small groups, then the tutor and the rest of the learning group offer verbal feedback. Students learn to edit and revise their own work and review the work of others. An integral part of the program is the public presentation of finished work in written and oral form.
The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) provides a wide variety of literacy-related programs to meet the needs of Los Angeles residents. LAPL operates fifteen Literacy Centers in branch libraries around Los Angeles. The collection at each literacy center consists of books, videos, audiocassettes, and interactive computer-based tutorials.
In the Adult Literacy Program, learners work one-on-one with an adult tutor to improve their reading and literacy skills. Tutors and students meet in branches of the Los Angeles Public Library. They typically meet twice weekly for 1 to 1½ hours at a time for a minimum of six months.
The “Families for Literacy” program provides free books to children under the age of five if a parent is enrolled in either the LAPL Adult Literacy or Limited English Proficiency program. LAPL tutors and staff also teach students how to read to their children.
Online learning opportunities can be accessed from any computer by people who have a LAPL library card. Plato software is available to enable students to learn subjects such as math, reading, writing, and social studies. LearnATest.com helps students improve their scores on job-skill exams. Rosetta Stone Online provides voice and visual software to help students learn English and other languages. Reading Upgrade provides self-paced lessons featuring pop music, video, and games to help learners improve their reading proficiency.
To recruit tutors and students, LAPL actively markets the literacy programs on its Web site, in flyers in branches, in the media, and through community partners. Its Literacy Web site was designed by Literacyworks to be user-friendly in its format and its audio clips that provide information for customers who may be unable to read.
The Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) through Jump Start provides preschool story kits for licensed childcare centers. Each kit includes books, finger-plays, a flannel board story, songs, and a musical cassette on a theme with kid appeal such as “Bears,” “The Family,” “Outer Space,” or “Pets.” The kits are geared to children age three to five. There is enough variety in the materials for a daily 30-minute story time. Childcare centers participating in the program can get a new kit every two weeks. MDPLS has also created Baby Jump Start kits. These kits, containing materials that can be used with babies and toddlers, are likewise organized by theme and have similar materials for daily 15-minute story times.
Project L.E.A.D. (Literacy for Every Adult in Dade): Project L.E.A.D. is the MDPLS’s adult literacy program, which is designed to reach out to English-speaking adults who are functionally illiterate; that is, reading below the fifth grade level. The program offers learners free, one-onone tutoring to improve their reading and writing skills. MDPLS matches adult learners with volunteer tutors who help them achieve self-determined literacy goals.
BEST SELLERS AND HOT TOPICS
Los Angeles Public Library’s online catalog provides a list of LAPL’s 50 most requested titles. Each of the titles in the list is a hotlink to the bibliographic record in the online catalog, thus making it easy to check the availability of the item, place it on reserve, or add it to a list of items of personal interest. It is also possible to email the list. The library updates the list every two weeks. The online catalog presents enriched information about many titles in LAPL’s collection. This enriched content includes book jacket art, table of contents, an excerpt, reviews, character information, annotations, and author notes.
The Phoenix Public Library (PPL) is also using its online catalog to provide access to information about its collections and to provide digital content. The PPL provides a wide selection of digital books that registered borrowers may download to their personal PC, laptop, or PDA. A person may have a maximum of five digital books on loan at any one time. Most titles may be borrowed for 21 days. Digital books are available in the following Fiction categories: General Fiction; Classics; Mystery; Romance; Science Fiction and Fantasy; and Suspense and Thriller. Digital books are available in the following Non-fiction categories: Business and Investing; Careers and Employment; Computers; General Non-fiction; Money Matters; Study Aids and Reference; and Travel.
The Salt Lake City Public Library uses displays very effectively to highlight new items in the collection and to present a variety of titles on a common theme or subject. This is particularly evident in the Main Library where staff uses fabric, flowers, and props of all sorts to create displays that capture the eye and the imagination, making it impossible to walk through any section of the library and not find items of interest.
The Brooklyn Public Library contracts with a private sector company (Tutor.com) to provide live homework help for students in grades four to twelve. Students can connect to live tutors in 20minute one-on-one sessions in the areas of math, science, social studies and English. The service is available from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days each week. Assistance is also available in Spanish (for math and science) Sunday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Students must have a valid Brooklyn Public Library Card to use the service. Tutor.com can be accessed from an off-site computer or a computer in one of the Brooklyn Public Libraries.
The Los Angles Public Library (LAPL) maintains a homework help Web site for children and a Web site for teens. The teen Web site provides links on a variety of subjects including: American History; Art; Biographies; Countries and States; Culture; Directories and Search Engines; Drugs and Alcohol; English, Literature and Foreign Languages; Government; Math; Religion and Mythology; Science; and World History.
The LAPL teen Web site also provides access to High School Hub (an online Learning Center for High School Students) that contains not only extensive resources on most subjects covered in a typical high school curriculum, but also includes a wide variety of reference resources and search tools such as a dictionary, an encyclopedia, world maps, a translator, and information on careers and colleges.
The Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) provides tutoring in math, reading and science for students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, who register to participate in S.M.A.R.T. (Science, Math, and Reading Tutoring). The program was developed by the MDPLS in response to overwhelming requests from both parents and children for homework assistance.
The S.M.A.R.T program is held on Saturdays from September through May, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at every branch in the library system. In most cases, tutoring is done in small groups. However, each child is assigned a one-hour block of tutoring time weekly. All tutors are carefully screened and are experienced educators.
More than a decade ago, the Los Angeles Public Library and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Downtown Business Magnet High School established the Electronic Information Magnet School in the Central Library. Librarians and teachers have a shared mission to teach students where and how to find information. The Electronic Information Magnet School program provides the opportunity for these partners to work collaboratively. The mission of the Electronic Information Magnet School is to provide educational experiences for its students that enable them to develop lifelong research skills critical to their present educational development and to their future careers and professions. As students learn about subject materials of the high school curriculum, they also gain knowledge of the technology, management and uses of information that are essential for human communications.
The Miami-Dade Public Library System offers a wide variety of computer classes in the labs at two of its regional libraries. Classes include: Introduction to the PC, Introduction to the Internet, Introduction to E-Mail, Introduction to Word Processing, and Introduction to Online Databases. An introductory computer class is also taught in Spanish. The courses are free, but pre-registration is required because of space limitations.
The New York Public Library (NYPL) has been committed to bridging the “digital divide” through the “Click on @the Library” program. From 2000-2004 grant funds have enabled the NYPL to provide over 50 free computer classes weekly at libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. During 2003-2004, NYPL staff provided instruction for over 90 percent of the classes. Volunteers and outside consultants provided instruction for the remaining 10 percent of the classes. Training takes place in branches with large banks of computers, either in NYPL’s formal training facilities or with the use of wireless laptops set up to provide an instant classroom in a library that would otherwise not have been able to offer classes.
A standardized curriculum was developed to provide consistency in the training. Topics included: Introduction to Computers, Internet, E-mail, Library’s Catalog, Library’s Online Resources, Job and Health Resources, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. Portions of the curriculum were also translated into Spanish.
In 2004, over 20,000 students participated in classes and the program continues to reach out to new library users. A visually creative marketing campaign was developed to target underserved populations. The most popular advertisement was “Digital Divide is not a Hip Hop Group.”
The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) recognizes that lifelong learning does not end when one retires from a job or reaches a certain age. BPL has developed a Web site that helps seniors learn about issues and topics of interest to them. The Web site provides information such as:
The Miami-Dade Public Library provides online exhibitions on subjects of interest to community residents. In the fall of 2005, two online exhibitions are scheduled: Reefs, Wrecks and Rascals: The Pirate Legacy of the Spanish Main, which was created in support of an exhibition that was on display in the Main Library in 2002.
The Cerritos Library in Cerritos, California is recognized nationally as having created a dynamic learning experience for their users. The entire library is also a museum, with exhibit spaces and museum-quality exhibits throughout.
The children’s area is a learning destination offering educational opportunities through an extensive book collection, educational exhibits, electronic and on-line resources. The area also includes an Arts Studio where children engage in various arts and crafts activities and a Little Theater for presenting story times and a wide variety of programs for children of all ages.
There are many areas in the Central Library in Los Angeles that provide patrons with inviting spaces including:
The areas of the Nashville Public Library that demonstrate the importance of public space include:
All the meeting rooms, courtyard, and lobby can be rented for events. There is a two-tier pricing structure – one for non-profit groups and one for commercial groups.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
It is important that the organizations that will be vital partners in the library transformation process understand the current state of the DCPL and also understand the best practices of state-of-the-art libraries.
Each stakeholder, including the residents of the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Board of Library Trustees, the Council of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Charter Schools, the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation, the Federation of Friends of the District of Columbia Public Library, and the staff of the District of Columbia Public Library, all will play a vital role in creating a vibrant 21st century library system.
To do so, each stakeholder must understand the elements of an effective library system. In addition to making copies of the Task Force report and the companion technical report available to the stakeholders in the library transformation process, there must be a series of discussions with stakeholders to review the findings of the Task Force and begin the process of planning for a revitalization of the DCPL system. While the Task Force report is comprehensive, it cannot replace the interactive sharing of ideas.
GOING to the PEOPLE
It is important to note that DC residents are arguably the most important stakeholders. Since it is impossible to schedule one-on-one meetings with each resident, it is necessary to take a different approach to sharing the .findings of the Task Force with residents.
A campaign should be mounted to share the findings and recommendations of the Task Force with residents, and to elicit public response and comments about the next steps in the library transformation process. Numerous community meetings should be held to discuss the report and to learn the views of residents about services that they want from their libraries.
The excitement of resident stakeholders is essential to the revitalization of the District’s public libraries. An effective way to begin the transformation process is to exchange ideas about innovative programs that DCPL can offer to residents. Meetings with stakeholders will provide an opportunity to discuss unusual best practice programs like the adult story time program at the Seattle Public Library. As stakeholders increase their understanding of the kinds of services that world-class libraries provide, they will take the necessary actions to improve the DCPL system.
Copies of the Task Force report and the supporting technical report should be made available in District libraries, the DCPL website, and the District government website. The Task Force report should also be distributed to: boards and administrators of universities and colleges located in the District; boards and administrators of non-profit agencies and organizations serving District residents; members of the business community; Advisory Neighborhood Commissions; labor unions; newspaper, television, radio, and other media outlets; non-profit organizations; and neighborhood and homeowner associations
There should be an effort to distribute the Task Force report using the mass media. Members of the editorial boards of local newspapers should be contacted. Copies of the report should be distributed to reporters who focus on education issues and the District of Columbia government. Mayor Williams, Task Force members and Library Trustees should be available for interviews to discuss the Task Force’s findings and underscore the importance of transforming the libraries of the District of Columbia. Mayor Williams frequently states that, “A capital city, deserves a capital library.” This is an important and recurring theme for discussion in interviews.
CARRYING out the PLAN
Key phases in the transformation process include the District of Columbia Library Board of Trustees (Library Board of Trustees) and the staff of DCPL developing a strategic service plan, preparing a master facilities plan, and creating a library technology plan. The strategic service plan, the master facilities plan, and the technology plan will include goals to measure the transformation process. These plans cannot be static documents. The plans must be dynamic blueprints that reflect changing conditions and needs. To revitalize the public libraries, the Library Board of Trustees and DCPL must continue to work together to decide how to more effectively use existing resources, such as facilities, collections, technology, and staff.
The key steps for transforming the District of Columbia Public Library System are:
The Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia must allocate the necessary funds for improvements and expansions to revitalize the DCPL system.
HOW THIS REPORT WAS FASHIONED
Mayor Anthony A. Williams charged The Mayor’s Task Force on the Future of the District of Columbia Public Library System (Task Force) to create a vision for a 21st century library system in Washington, D.C. The primary tasks of the Task Force were to understand the current state of the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) system, shape the creation of a redevelopment plan for facilities, technology, programming, and the acquisition of new materials, and develop recommendations to implement the redevelopment plan.
The members of the Task Force visited the Brooklyn Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Miami-Dade Public Library, the Nashville Public Library, the Phoenix Public Library, the Queens Borough Public Library, the Salt Lake City Public Library, the Seattle Public Library, the San Francisco Public Library, and the Vancouver, Canada Public Library to learn first-hand how successful libraries revitalized their services and facilities and to experience the excitement created by these systems. The Task Force analyzed the DCPL system, reviewed the best practices of libraries, considered options for renewal, and prepared recommendations.
THANKS to THOSE WHO HELPED WITH THIS REPORT:
A Message from the Mayor
Providing the citizens of the District of Columbia with state of the art library services that address the important needs of our community is an important goal of my administration. Council Chair, Linda Cropp and Education Committee Chair, Kathy Patterson continue to provide invaluable leadership from the D.C. Council on this agenda. They have provided guidance to me in this effort as members of the Mayor’s Task Force on the Future of the District of Columbia Public Library System.
Additionally, I would like to thank the other members of the Mayor’s Task Force, for their dedicated service to improve the quality of library programs and the facilities. They are: Dr. Marie Harris Aldridge, James H. Billington, Ann W. Brown, Claudine Brown, Francis Buckley, Susan Fifer Canby, Jean Case, Bonnie Cohen, Ralph Davidson, Charlene Drew-Jarvis, Terence Golden, Donald Graham, Vartan Gregorian, Martha Hale, John Hill, Clifford Janey, Susan Kent, Richard Levy, Willee Lewis, Terry Lynch, DeAnna Marcum, Richard Moe, Very Reverend Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., Charles Overby, Catherine Reynolds, Marshall Rose, Miles Steele, III, Thomas Susman, Peter B. Wiley, Joslyn Williams, Elaine Wolfensohn and Nina Zolt. The members of the District of Columbia Board of Library Trustees served as ex officio members of the Task Force. Trustees Betsy Harvey Kraft, Angela London, Guitele Nicoleau, Jacqueline O’Neil, Myrna Peralta, James Lewis, and Donald Richardson made significant contributions to the work of the Task Force. Neil Albert, Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth and Elders, Leslie Pinkston of the Office of the Mayor and Jason Juras, a member of the staff of Councilmember Kathy Patterson were diligent in their efforts on behalf of the Task Force.
Similarly, the following members of the staff of the District of Columbia Public Library provided assistance to the Task Force: Gail Avery, Se’an Crumley, Rose Dawson, Bette Ann Hubbard, Monica Lewis, Jewel Ogonji, Pat Pasqual, Rita Thompson-Joyner and Barbara Webb.
The work of the Task Force could not have been accomplished without the support of exemplary libraries around the country that demonstrate the best practices in the field of library science. The directors of each of these libraries generously shared resources, time and their knowledge. Each of these directors expressed a personal interest in the success of our efforts because the Nation’s Capital should have a Library System that reflects the best our country has to offer.
The expertise of each of these remarkable directors is reflected in the recommendations of the Task Force. We are grateful to each of these library directors and their staffs. The library directors are: Ginnie Cooper, Executive Director, Brooklyn Public Library; Thomas Galante, Director, Queens Borough Public Library; Toni Garvey, Director, Phoenix Public Library, Deborah Jacobs, City Librarian, Seattle Public Library; Fontayne Holmes, City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library; Donna Nicely, Director, Nashville Public Library; Raymond Santiago, Director, MiamiDade Public Library; Nancy Tessman, Director, Salt Lake City Public Library; and Paul Whitney, Chief Librarian, Vancouver Public Library. We want to further thank Donna Nicely and Nancy Tessman who traveled to Washington, D.C. for additional discussions with the members of the Task Force. The Federal City Council supported the work of the Task Force by hosting many of the Task Force meetings and providing office space for the staff of the Task Force. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Diane Mayo, Sandra Nelson, George Needham of the Online Computer Library Center, and Dr. Abby Smith of the Council on Library and Information Resources met with the members of the Task Force. June Garcia and Ronald Dubberly of Dubberly Garcia Associates, Inc. shared their years of experience in library management with the Task Force. We are grateful for their approach which balances cutting edge library practices with practical insights into the implementation of library best practices.
Finally, I would like thank the residents of the District for their patience as we continue to work with the District of Columbia Library Board of Trustees, the Council of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Public Schools, the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation, the Federation of Friends of the District of Columbia Public Library and the staff of the District of Columbia Public Library to provide a library system that offers quality programs, world class facilities and 21st century technology. A capital city deserves a capital library. Our citizens deserve no less.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams
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