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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thinking about: The New Shaw Library

Tomorrow night is the third of four meetings hosted by the DC Public Library seeking community input on the new Shaw library. I’ve yet to make any of the meetings and am hoping I can cut out of work in time for tomorrow night’s. All who can should attend to influence this community asset-in-the-making.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of library I’d like to see built on the site of the old library bounded by 7th, 8th and R Streets and Rhode Island Avenue. Here are a few of my ideas:

1. The library should meet the needs of the neighborhood. This is obviously a no-brainer, but I figured I should start with this point. The library must cater to the diverse needs of the surrounding Shaw neighborhood – from fulfilling school children’s reading and research requirements to engaging seniors through educational and computing activities to providing meeting spaces for community groups.

2. The library should engage the streetscape. No blank walls. Interesting lines. Large windows that provide cool vantages into this space. A retail spot—like a coffee shop or café—would generate additional foot traffic and could provide a great place to read your latest checked out book.

3. The architecture should be post-card worthy. Were we to create a post-card of the Shaw neighborhood, we should be proud to place a picture of this public building on it for all to see. The design should memorable, beautiful, unique, and symbolic of the neighborhood.

4. The library should serve a special research niche. In addition to normal library functions and holdings, I think it would be neat if our library could be the repository for materials relating to the 1960’s riots. Longtime neighborhood residents could even contribute – either through recorded interviews or actual tangible artifacts. I think it would be a real jewel to our neighborhood to have such a collection that could draw a nationwide audience.

Third (of 4) Watha T Daniel/Shaw Library Planning Meeting
6:30-8:30 pm, Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Interim Library
945 Rhode Island Ave NW

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