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.
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.
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.
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.