As an advocate for the D.C. Public Library System, I don't share Marc Fisher's enthusiasm for the proposal to move the downtown library to the old convention center site [Metro, Aug. 5]. The proposal -- the details of which remain unavailable to the public -- involves selling the Martin Luther King Jr. Library site and constructing a much smaller library (150,000 square feet, according to some reports) a block away. The new library would be below a hotel and mostly underground.

Mr. Fisher's comparison to Seattle's new library seems off the mark. Seattle recently opened a 380,000-square-foot, stand-alone library. By all accounts, the building is an architectural masterpiece. How does this compare to what is being proposed here?

Any proposal to revitalize the city's libraries must focus on investing in neighborhood branches and on developing a more community-oriented approach to services. In a city with a 37 percent adult illiteracy rate, why are we focusing on splashy downtown real estate projects instead of providing services where the need is great?

Mr. Fisher is right that the library's enemy has been complacency. However, it is not neighborhood library advocates -- who rebind worn-out books, hold used-book sales to raise needed funds and volunteer in branches -- who are to blame. Rather, it is those who control the purse strings who have failed to hear our pleas and instead have allowed the libraries to deteriorate to a crisis state.



Friends of the Tenley-Friendship Library