The District's public library system was forced to shut more than half its branches across the city yesterday to ensure that boiler systems comply with a new set of regulations.
The 14 branches, in neighborhoods from Georgetown to Petworth, will remain closed today and tomorrow, which is Veterans Day, and will resume normal operating hours Friday, said Monica Lewis, a spokesperson for the system.
Lewis said that regulations, issued over the summer by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, created new standards for operating and maintaining the boilers.
The revised code, she said, required the library system to hire contractors to adjust the boilers in each of the 27 branches, including the 14 where the boilers await certification.
Library officials had to shut those branches yesterday because temperatures fell below 68 degrees.
"On our end, from a facilities maintenance point of view, we have been working hard to meet new regulations," Lewis said.
Leonard Minsky, director of the DC Library Renaissance Project, described the closings as a setback for a system that he described as underfunded and mismanaged. The system's annual budget is $28 million.
"It's a disaster, but it's a disaster in the context of the public library system," said Minsky, whose nonprofit advocacy group is funded by Ralph Nader. "It's been going downhill for a long time. The system is bad and needs to be fixed."
Told of Minsky's remarks, Lewis declined to comment.
Two of the closed branches are in Southeast, Capitol View on Central Avenue and Francis A. Gregory on Alabama Avenue. The Southwest Neighborhood and Washington Highland branches were closed in Southwest.
In Northeast, the Woodridge branch on Hamlin Street was shut, along with the Northeast Branch Library on Seventh Street.
In Northwest, the closed branches included those in Petworth, Georgetown, Cleveland Park, Mount Pleasant, Palisades, Takoma Park and Tenleytown-Friendship Heights.