MLK Library’s grand reopening draws festive crowd

On Saturday, with much fun and fanfare, D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library celebrated its COVID-delayed grand reopening following a $211 million renovation.

MLK Library reopening
D.C. parents and young students came out for MLK Library’s grand reopening, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo by Dick Uliano/WTOP)

People young and old thronged the sidewalk at the intersection of 9th and G Streets Northwest in a festive atmosphere including tables of books, games for kids and a soundstage for music.

“We’re really excited to bring people into the library safely with a ton of activities that will take us till almost midnight tonight,” said Richard Reyes-Galvin, executive director for the D.C. Public Library.

Festivities on Saturday also included films, go-go music, talks by popular authors, dance performances and children’s programs.

MLK Library reopening
Book carts and street festivities were on hand for the MLK Library reopening on Saturday. (Photo by Dick Uliano/WTOP)

The library has undergone extensive changes to all floors, even adding a garden rooftop terrace since renovations began in 2017.

Even as updates were mostly completed in 2020, the libraries hours and services were sharply restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, for example, a library patron could only dash inside to pick up a book.

With Saturday’s reopening, full services have been restored, including a restart of some popular programs.

“They can enjoy a lecture in the auditorium, they can enjoy a demonstration down in our fabrication lab, they can enjoy a story time program in the Children’s Room. That’s really what makes this building pop,” said Reyes-Galvin.

MLK Library reopening
A fresh look and some new facilities at the recently updated MLK Library. (Photo by Dick Uliano/WTOP)

Plenty of D.C.’s children came out for the library’s grand reopening.

“I think it’s exciting, and I also think it’s really cool because I really like to read… this is a really big library, so there are a lot of books to read,” said Wells Monash, an eight year old third-grader at Sheridan School in Northwest D.C.

“I like to read for a long time until I can’t read anymore because I need to do something else,” Monash said.

Even after reopening festivities come to a close at 5 p.m., MLK Library will also be participating in another festival, Art All Night, from 9 p.m. until midnight.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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