The Washington Post

Better late than never

It’s good news that the mayor of Washington D.C. suddenly found enough money to keep open on Sundays the single remaining library in the nation’s capital open that day of the week..

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library had been slated to close on Sundays as of yesterday because of budget cuts, but after public criticism, Mayor Vincent Gray announced Friday he had located funds to keep it functioning. Better late than never.

Libraries matter to communities. In high-poverty areas they are often the only source of books for children. Numerous studies in cities across the country have shown that quality public and school libraries are related to better reading achievement on the local, state and international levels. Other studies show significant returns on investment

It was disheartening that the city’s leaders were ready to let the library, the only one that has been open on Sunday for several years, to close.

Gray said on Friday in announcing that he had found $316,000 to keep the library open for four hours on Sunday that he wished more people had complained about the plans to close it when he originally proposed it last spring or when the D.C. Council approved it.

Well, yes, it would have shown public concern had residents complained back then. But Gray shouldn’t have needed complaints to recognize that it was wrong to close the largest, best resourced library in the city, which is as busy on Sundays as it is any other day of the week.

Still, he gets credit for fixing the mistake.


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Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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