Richard Reyes-Gavilan will be new D.C. library chief


The new Digital Commons is one upgrade made to the MLK Library under the tenure of Ginnie Cooper, who left the post of D.C. chief librarian in November. Richard Reyes-Gavilan has been chosen to succeed her, officials tell the Washington Post. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The next leader of the District’s public library system will come from Brooklyn — just like his predecessor.

Richard Reyes-Gavilan will be named chief librarian of the D.C. Public Library at a Thursday morning news conference at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, according to two officials with knowledge of the pick who were not authorized to speak publicly before the announcement.

Reyes-Gavilan takes over for Ginnie Cooper, who left the post in November after a widely praised seven-year tenure in which 14 library branches were rebuilt or renovated. As Cooper did before coming to Washington, Reyes-Gavilan currently serves as director of the Brooklyn Public Library, a post he has held since October 2011.

According to an online resume, Reyes-Gavilan previously headed the Brooklyn system’s central library and served as a department head for the New York Public Library. In his new post, he will take over a system that is amid an ambitious capital improvements program and is in the early stages of a pricey and controversial renovation of MLK, the system’s central library downtown.

In his current post, Reyes-Gavilan has overseen a public-private development of a library branch that has similar aspects to the proposed MLK redevelopment. Under one proposal, new floors would be added to the existing Ludwig Mies van der Rohe structure, and a portion of the building would be leased to a private tenant.

Reyes-Gavilan did not immediately respond to a request for comment made through the Brooklyn Public Library. John W. Hill Jr., the chairman of the D.C. Public Library board, which undertook the search and made the selection, did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), declined to comment. George Williams, a spokesman for the library, declined to confirm the identity of the new chief but confirmed an announcement is set for 10 a.m. Thursday.

Reyes-Gavilan’s nomination is subject to D.C. Council approval.  [Update, 3:30 p.m.: The post of chief librarian is not council-confirmed.]

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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