A Central Library to Be Proud Of

Monday, June 19, 2006

The weakness and inconsistency of Mayor Anthony A. Williams's arguments for a new central library ["Why D.C. Needs a New Library," op-ed, June 13] demonstrate a muddled proposal. My questions include:

· How can it be that the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is useless to the city but valuable for developers who would need to make the same kinds of changes and repairs?

· How can the District get an iconic new main library such as Seattle's, when it would be smaller than MLK and wedged into a commercial building?

· Why does Mr. Williams see "little architectural significance" in MLK, when his Office of Planning nominated it for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places last year?

· How does the mayor know that the new building will be architecturally significant?

· With a Metro station directly across from MLK, why would a library several blocks away attract more patrons?

The intent for a civic facility at the old Convention Center site was to bring additional public use to the area. There is no net gain when you simply move the library from one location to another. Moreover, leasing MLK may bring in $60 million, but the city will still need to beg for at least $100 million in public donations for library construction costs.

We have a modern building that can be adapted to current needs. The mayor should take that concept seriously.



Committee of 100 on the Federal City


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