DCentric » Libraries http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU MLK Library To Close On Sundays http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/mlk-library-to-close-on-sundays/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/mlk-library-to-close-on-sundays/#comments Fri, 02 Sep 2011 14:00:51 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=10180 Continue reading ]]>

Paul Simpson / Flickr

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library is located at 9th and G streets, NW.

D.C. libraries offer major resources to residents, particularly for those lacking computers or Internet access. And the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, the system’s largest and it’s central library, stays quite busy.

But starting Oct. 2, patrons will have to look elsewhere on Sundays. The library will join the city’s other neighborhood libraries, which have been closed on Sundays since last year.

The new hours at MLK  are a result of a budget shortfall; this particular library has about $700,000 less to work with this coming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

But library spokesman George Williams says that Sunday has been one of the least busy days for the MLK library, when it’s only open from 1 to 5 p.m. The neighborhood libraries, however, had been quite popular on Sundays until 2010 when Sunday hours were cut.

“When the decision was made to close Sundays at neighborhood libraries, patrons made the adjustment” and started coming on other days, Williams says.

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Cheap and Free Summer Activities for D.C. Youth http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/06/cheap-and-free-summer-activities-for-d-c-s-youth/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/06/cheap-and-free-summer-activities-for-d-c-s-youth/#comments Thu, 02 Jun 2011 14:29:28 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=7567 Continue reading ]]> Nearly $17 million cut from summer youth programs in D.C. and 8,000 less D.C. summer teen jobs means thousands more youth will have no structured activities this summer, reports WAMU‘s Kavitha Cardoza. Summer break is just weeks away, and D.C.’s parks and library systems are preparing for a potential flood of kids to their free and reduced programming.

“There’s a huge awareness in the youth-serving community that we’re going to be called on to do more with less,” said Rebecca Renard, the D.C. Public Library’s summer program coordinator.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Swimming is a cool, cheap summer activity.

Department of Parks and Recreation spokesman John Stokes said that “the budget is not what it used to be, so you have to make lemonade with lemons.” DPR is teaming up with other agencies, businesses and community organizations to provide programs, and DPR is also organizing a comprehensive online guide to city activities.

“I’ve been here for eight years, and it’s never been this intense, where every week about 20 agency heads get together in a room and ask, ‘Who’s going to offer what in the summer? How are we going to make sure these areas are covered nonstop?’” Stokes said.

So what is available this summer to D.C. youth who can’t afford expensive alternatives? Here are a few low-cost activities:


DPR pools not undergoing construction are currently open during the weekends, and once the school year ends, they will open during the week as well. Pools are free for District residents. They close one day a week for routine maintenance, and that day varies by pool. Check your local pool’s schedule here.


Libraries won’t have special extended hours, but many are tailoring programs to meet the needs of teens coming to their buildings.

“Libraries are de facto day centers,” Renard said. “It’s air conditioned, it’s free, there’s one in pretty much every community. A lot of times teens may not go to the library during the school year, but during the summer it’s hot, and if they don’t have a job, they may come to the library.”

If there are groups of teens in the library with not much to do, Renard said library staffers are prepared to offer impromptu workshops on everything from duct-tape wallet making to producing music using GarageBand.

“We’re really trying to think of cheap, no-cost programs that we can immediately implement,” she said.

Mentoring and reading programs

Given that D.C. Public Schools will see their summer school budget reduced from $9 million to $4 million, library reading programs could be a way to help “stem learning loss” this summer, Renard said.

Such programs are most successful when they include incentives to participants for reading books, she said. This year, teens will be able to take part in a program called Shadow Your Future; upon reading a certain number of books, teens can enter a lottery for a mentoring experience of their choice. Examples include editing movies at National Geographic or sitting with a congressman on the floor of the House of Representatives.

“We’re also keeping in mind that there’s a shortage of summer jobs, so we’re creating a career and professional mentorship program,” Renard said.


DPR is planning to hold more movie nights this summer, including four outdoor movies, with a heavy emphasis on targeting high-crime areas.

Movie nights may seem not that important in helping keep kids focused, but Stokes pointed out that they reach teens at an important time: the evening hours.

“Even when there were 20,000 [youth] jobs, still at night, all those kids are off. So you want to provide them something to do. That’s why the movie nights are so critical,” Stokes said.


Camps are most like some of the structured programs which saw funding cuts, such as the D.C. summer jobs program, in that they provide a full schedule of monitored or planned activity. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive option on this list. Some of the city’s arts organizations offer camps, but the cost can be as high as $400 for four week sessions. There are reduced rates and financial aid available to attend some camps, such as Girls Rock! DC.

There are more affordable camp options, such as DPR summer camps, which cost District residents $100 for four week sessions. The city offers a reduced rate of $25 for DPR camps to those who qualify, but there are a limited number of those slots available, says Stokes. There are hundreds of DPR camps ranging from street theater to gardening.

Where to find more

DPR’s  D.C. Summer Fun website will be revamped next week with a comprehensive guide on what children and youth can do this summer. And you can follow the library system’s youth-oriented Youth202 Twitter feed to find out more on free and low-cost activities.

Have a suggestion for a low-cost summer teen activity? Email us at dcentric@wamu.org.

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How a federal government shutdown could affect D.C.’s most vulnerable http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/how-a-federal-government-shutdown-could-affect-d-c-s-most-vulnerable/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/how-a-federal-government-shutdown-could-affect-d-c-s-most-vulnerable/#comments Thu, 07 Apr 2011 16:26:28 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=5452 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Paul Simpson

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library will close during a federal government shutdown.

A federal government shutdown will do more than impact federal employees (and their BlackBerrys) — many D.C. residents, including the District’s most vulnerable residents, will feel the pain.

Residents lacking a computer or access to high-speed Internet won’t be able to rely upon their local library to cross the digital divide. Public and charter schools will remain open, so students should probably take advantage of the Internet access they can get at their schools — unless you attend the University of the District of Columbia, which will be closed.

Folks who rely on the Circulator buses to get to work will have to hop on a Metrobus instead (bright side: Metro cars could be a lot less crowded!).

But many basic services would continue, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps and Medicaid. United Medical Center and St. Elizabeth’s hospitals will remain open, and firefighters and police officers will continue to work. Other services will be limited, including unemployment benefits. Mayor Vincent Gray announced that non-essential employees likely won’t be working: about 14,000 of the District’s 35,000 municipal employees would be furloughed under the D.C. plan [PDF].

Many tourist attractions, namely the Smithsonian institutions, would close, and it seems that local businesses that rely upon tourist dollars are very unprepared for what a shutdown could do to them. (Although, WAMU’s Patrick Madden predicts that restaurants catering to bored furloughed federal workers could win out).

All of this has rightly infuriated local lawmakers and representatives, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D — D.C.) who went off during an appearance on FOX 5 this morning saying that “it’s time that the District of Columbia told the Congress to go straight to hell.” Her remarks were specifically in response an attachment to a proposed one-week budget extension that would prevent the District from using its taxpayer dollars on funding abortions for low-income women. See her remarks here:

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton Upset Over Treatment of DC During Shutdown Resolution Talks: MyFoxDC.com

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Georgetown’s Gorgeous New Library http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/georgetowns-gorgeous-new-library/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/georgetowns-gorgeous-new-library/#comments Thu, 14 Oct 2010 17:55:07 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=1412 Continue reading ]]>


The library in 2006.

I used to live in Georgetown, less than a block from the beautiful library which was gutted by a fire in the spring of 2007. That’s why I was reading this Prince of Petworth post with avid interest, “PoP Preview – Georgetown Library“:

The Georgetown Library located at 3260 R St, NW (Wisconsin and R) reopens Monday, Oct. 18th. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to receive a tour from DC’s chief librarian, Ginnie Cooper. Many will remember that the library was devastated by fire Apr. 30th, 2007 (same day as the Eastern Market fire).

It is awkward to say this but I think the fire may have been a blessing in disguise (thank God nobody was injured) because the renovation is truly amazing (and there were no plans for a major renovation). It is though an entire new library was built on the space (and much improved). Not only was the space gutted but a ton of new space was added. There is now a huge children’s section as well as a completely new third floor housing the historic Peabody collection (which thankfully some say miraculously survived the fire). Beautiful new staircases were added. A new meeting room and study rooms are top of the line. Wifi and 40 new computers as well as 40,000 books (with room for 80,000) will be housed in the library.

Sounds amazing. So amazing, I was a little sad that I no longer lived next to it– what a great place to, I don’t know…craft a blog post? Then I saw the only comment on the post, from someone who may be a current neighbor of mine, since their handle is “Columbia Road“:

Can anyone explain why this newly repaired library is significantly nicer than newly built libraries like Shaw’s Watha T. Daniel?

That got my attention. Why is there a significant disparity? It could be because outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty once called the Georgetown branch “our historic flagship library.” But I don’t know. I don’t feel like saying, “Duh, because it’s in Georgetown and not SHAW”, so I think I’ll find out. And of course, I’ll keep all of you posted.

Libraries are essential to communities; I wouldn’t be the person I am right now if I hadn’t spent the majority of my childhood in my local libraries, in Northern California. Every child deserves what I was given.

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