Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.jpg
CountryUnited States
TypePublic library
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

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 is currently closed for renovations.


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. Maintenance was then somewhat neglected and there were problems with the HVAC system.[1] DCPL has recently restored lighting on the entire first floor. DCPL has also recently completed elevator and restroom renovations throughout the building.

On March 4, 2017, the building closed to begin a modernization, including a major reconstruction of the interior of the building. The modernization process is expected to last for three years, with a planned cost of $208 million and a re-opening in 2020. The renovation is designed by Mecanoo Architecten and Martinez + Johnson and being built by Smoot/ Gilbane Joint Venture as the general contractor. An outdoor terrace and green roof will be added. Interim services for the central library begin May 8, 2017. A "Library Express" location and administrative offices will be located at 1990 K Street NW and an operations center established at 1709 3rd Street NE.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weiss, Eric M. (March 16, 2006). "Outdated Eyesore or Modern Masterpiece?". Washington Post. p. DZ01.
  2. ^ The Future of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at DC public library site
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Special Collections". D.C. Public Library. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-18. Retrieved 2014-01-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) DCist Article, retrieved July 17, 2013
  6. ^ Center for Accessibility at official library site

External links[edit]