From the beginning, libraries provided the books, scrolls, and monographs, along with important silence and inspiration, for learning. Since the days of antiquity, libraries hosted students, scholars, priests and other religious. Nowadays, libraries serve a multitude of constituencies and purposes, including unrestricted access to information in various formats, written and digital. Libraries have redefined cool as library programming for today’s youth is at an all-time high. No longer are libraries exclusive domains for top scholarship. Rather, today’s libraries are the busy information centers and hubs for the communities they serve, offering computer access, programs, and so much more.
An All American Trip to the Library
There’s nothing more all-American than a backyard barbecue, but so is a trip to your local library. Libraries have everything you need, when you need it. Libraries can help you research a term paper, hold a meeting, participate in a lecture, search the Internet, or address a community problem. Libraries sponsor youth programming and how-to seminars for today’s seniors. Libraries have cool collections, like DVDs, audiobooks, photographs, and so mcuh more. These days, libraries bring everyone in, from the new immigrant to the elders of our communities. Libraries are so important to our lives today that getting a library card is a virtual rite of passage for Americans everywhere.
American Public Libraries: Essential to Communities
Public libraries are special institutions in that they provide information and access to every member of the community. They house collections and archives unique and distinct to the community and the people they serve. Libraries are important structures and institutions for everyone, and deserve our continued support and use. This is especially important during financial downturns, when job seekers join students and researchers coming to libraries for help and assistance. Washington, DC is fortunate to have a wide web of public libraries that connect the community to important resources and services.
DC Public Library: Get Connected
Washington, DC is certainly a unique, world class city. As for libraries and research centers, Library of Congress gets the ink for its gigantic holdings and professional staff. Washington, DC is also home to the National Archives. But, the District of Columbia has other libraries and collections that deserve attention for their unique voice, character and presence in the community.
DC Public Library, in particular, provides the glue for so many people in Washington, DC, like students, educators, seniors, professionals, among others. Visiting your local DC Public Library branch will help the system continue to address your library needs and those of the community. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library has long provided the juice for the entire library system with its high voltage visitors, lectures and events.
While DC Public Library system was hit very hard by budget cuts in recent years, this venerable library is still open for business and waiting for you. For example, Washington, DC teens can check out books on their Reading List for summertime as well as get recommendations on age-appropriate books year round. DC Public Library branches also host Story Time which introduces younger children to all kinds of fun, learning activities, books, music, rhymes and so much more. Indeed, DC Public Library programs and services remind parents and their families of the vital importance of reading to children, starting in the toddler years.
DC Public Library System: Special Collections
Since 1905, the DC Public Library has built its special collections, prized for their distinct holdings and one-of-a-kind material. “Washingtoniana” is the largest Special Collection in the DC Public Library system. Washingtoniana houses a comprehensive collection of material on the city of Washington, DC from late 18th century to present and includes a reference library, photograph collections and Washington, DC community archives.
The DC reference library along includes more than 25,000 books on Washington, DC. It also houses 8,000 local maps. Finally, the DC reference library holds 25 million newspaper clippings from two major newspapers, microfilm of all major daily local newspapers, 1800-present, an extensive vertical file collection, as well as public census information, 1800-present. The DC reference library has so much for students and researchers on the long, proud history of the District of Columbia.
The D.C. Community Archives has more than 150 archives from individual and organization collections that have been central to political, social and artistic life and history of the District of Columbia. Among them are the archives of the D.C. Library Association, Special Libraries Association, and the Oral History Research Center. The Washington Area Performing Arts also gave DC Public Library its video archives, including videos of local theater productions.
In 1972, the Black Studies Center was founded to coincide with the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The Black Studies Center contains a wealth of information on the history, literature and culture of people of African descent, with a special focus on the United States and its history. While it’s essentially a monograph collection, it also holds the Beatrice Murphy, Sloan Williams and Ira Reid collections. You’ll also find a vertical file of clippings and whole newspapers and periodicals in the Black Studies Centers collections. DC public library is fortunate to have this important collection, among other archives and artifacts on black studies and the history of the District of Columbia.
DC Public Library: Locations Near You
DC Public Library is established to meet student, scholar, business and community needs. Having library branches situated in the community as well as within community centers helps connect the library system to its users. DC Public Library sites are situated across the city, in all four quadrants. DC Library locations include:
Francis A. Gregory
Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Watha T. Daniel/Shaw
If you plan to visit one of the DC Public Library’s branch locations or the Martin Luther King Library, be sure to contact the DC Public Library advance of visiting. Shortened hours, staff reductions and closures have changed the landscape and visiting hours for the DC Public Library. Best to consult DC Public Library branch staff in advance of your trip to the library, online or by telephone.
Support DC Public Library
DC Public Library and its satellite locations needs your help. This library, like others, will disappear without strong community support and participation. There are many ways to make a contribution to the life and longevity of this important public library system. For example, volunteers are needed to teach classes, hold workshops, shelve books, and so much more. If you’re interested in helping out at DC Public Library, call (202) 741-5803 or email [email protected]
Contacting DC Public Library
Volunteers make a difference at DC Public Library. For additional information on DC Public Library, check online, by telephone, or in person at:
District of Columbia Public Library
901 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: (202) 727-0321
Videophone: (202) 559-5368
TTY: (202) 727-2255
DC Public Library
American Library Association