Library News

Library Transformations Frought with Bad Community Input Process Points

John Hill, President of the Board of Library Trustees (BOLT), and the DC Public Libraries (DCPL) have called the process for library transformations in Shaw, Tenleytown, Anacostia, and Benning as ADEQUATE... even though...

  • Library development and design plans have NEVER been presented formally at any public Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting – no affected ANC Commissioner has had a formal chance to weigh in with their opinions about the plans.

  • Library design meetings were held at night during the week over the winter with no childcare or translation services.

  • Notice about library design meetings was given with a week or less heads up and were given to random community members. There was little outreach to local community-based organizations serving residents near the libraries and many ANC Commissioners were sent an email the day prior.

  • Typically, civic or neighborhood associations have not been invited to attend design meetings and have never had the design plans introduced at their meetings.

  • Library design meetings were scheduled randomly by DCPL without deferring to already planned monthly community meetings and even Library Friend's groups were not consulted about dates.

  • At the design meetings, questions and comments were noted by the meeting facilitators, but have remained unanswered or were completely ignored.

  • The new library design structural images were unveiled in December and early January. Since then there has been no update to the DCPL website with how community comments and design suggestions may have been incorporated since those meetings (5 to 6 months later).

  • DCPL has never produced a community survey for youth, adults, and seniors and worked with partners in the community to expand the number of voices involved in the library transformations. Hence, since the meetings are at night, seniors and youth have been largely left out of the discussion.

  • In 2006, the Mayor's Blur Ribbon Taskforce on libraries suggested that renovation studies be looked at to see if the old buildings could be saved. Renovation studies have never been conducted despite the community support for such and the old buildings have been torn down.

  • In July 2007, the architect described a process by which the design plans would proceed. The description included the fact that the architect would bring multiple plans so that the community could discuss the positives of each plan and fold them them into one. Instead in December and January, the architect brought only one choice, one plan.

  • Library design images and plans have never been introduced to the community before the design meetings so that the community could come into the design meeting with questions already prepared. DCPL still stands by that process despite the logic of having the plans reviewed by the community before the meetings are held.

  • There's more...