Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.jpg
CountryUnited States
TypePublic library
ArchitectLudwig Mies van der Rohe Edit this on Wikidata
Location901 G St. NW
Washington, D.C.
Coordinates38°53′55″N 77°1′29″W / 38.89861°N 77.02472°W / 38.89861; -77.02472Coordinates: 38°53′55″N 77°1′29″W / 38.89861°N 77.02472°W / 38.89861; -77.02472
Branch ofDistrict of Columbia Public Library
Size1,334,479 volume Edit this on Wikidata

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (MLKML) is the central facility of the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL). Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the 400,000 square foot (37,000 m²) steel, brick, and glass structure, and it is a rare example of modern architecture in Washington, D.C. It reopened in 2020 after 3.5 years of renovations.[1]


This library was Mies's last building, his only public library, and his only building constructed in Washington, D.C.[citation needed] The building was completed in 1972 at a cost of $18 million. By the early 2000s, years of deferred facility maintenance were widely apparent.[2]

Starting on March 4, 2017, the building underwent a $211 million renovation, with a reopening scheduled for June of 2021. The entire interior was completely redone and included a new auditorium, dance studio, recording studios, tool library, offices, and a rooftop garden.[3]

Landmark status[edit]

On June 28, 2007, the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board designated this building a historic landmark. The designation, which applies to the exterior as well as interior spaces, seeks to preserve Mies' original design while allowing the library necessary flexibility to operate as a contemporary library facility. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.[4]

Performers in front of the library's entrance as part of the 2009 Music Al Fresco Series

Named in honor of the American civil rights leader, the building's lobby includes a large mural of Martin Luther King Jr. by artist Don Miller.

Prior to 1972, Washington's central library was a 1903 Andrew Carnegie-funded building located in Mount Vernon Square. That building was used by the University of the District of Columbia, and is currently occupied by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.


Special collections[edit]

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library houses several of the library system's special collections. The Washingtoniana collection includes books, newspaper archives, maps, census records, and oral histories related to the city's history with 1.3 million photographs from the Washington Star newspaper and the theatrical video collections of the Washington Area Performing Arts Video Archive.[5]

The Black Studies Center was established along with the MLK Library in 1972 to collect documents related to the African diaspora focusing on African American culture.[5]

Digital Commons[edit]

In July 2013 the DC Public Library opened an 11,000-square-foot Digital Commons in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The new facility includes a 3-D printer, an Espresso Book Machine, and rows of computers. The Digital Commons also includes a "Dream Lab" composed of meeting spaces and cubicles with devices for collaborative work. The Library Systems hopes to attract startup companies and community organizations without permanent offices to use wireless Internet, DVD players, projectors, and Smart Boards.[6]

Room 215 has Center for Accessibility
Room 215 has Center for Accessibility
Braille magazines at DC public library.jpeg
Braille magazines in room 215

Center for Accessibility[edit]

The Center for Accessibility in room 215 has Braille magazines and specialists in adaptive technologies to assist disabled people.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "D.C.'s ambitious, stunning new MLK Library". Washington Post. 5 October 2020.
  2. ^ Weiss, Eric M. (March 16, 2006). "Outdated Eyesore or Modern Masterpiece?". The Washington Post. p. DZ01.
  3. ^ "MLK Library will reopen in September, giving D.C. a renewed central hub". Washington Post. 17 July 2020.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Special Collections". D.C. Public Library. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-18. Retrieved 2014-01-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) DCist Article, retrieved July 17, 2013
  7. ^ Center for Accessibility at official library site

External links[edit]