Busy, historic library on Capitol Hill closing to undergo 2-year renovation

The 101-year-old Southeast Library near D.C.’s Eastern Market will close early next year for a nearly two-year renovation. The one-story brick building is one of three library buildings in the District funded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

The D.C. Public Library plans to modernize the building at 403 Seventh Street in Southeast in a $33 million renovation project that will expand the space while preserving and restoring the building’s historic elements.

There’s some concern in the Capitol Hill neighborhood for patrons of the library which has been one of the D.C. Public library system’s busiest since it opened in 1922.

The Northeast Library at 330 Seventh Street in Northeast — about one mile away — has been designated as the interim library for Southeast during its closure.

“We’re thrilled and happy that there’s going to be a new library. This is the second oldest library in the system. It was definitely in need of renovation … the (D.C. Public) library should have planned to give us some interim library services nearer than another branch of the library … that’s not going to work for people who have some mobility problems, that’s not going to work for our senior citizens, not going to work for families with small children,” said David Sobelsohn, 6B03 advisory neighborhood commissioner.

The library has also designated the nearby Arthur Capper Community Center at 1000 Fifth Street in Southeast as an interim express location. There’ll be no books to browse at the express site but patrons can pick up reserved books, return books, and there’ll be Wi-Fi access, computers and printers.

The library said the express site will be open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the exception of Thursdays, when it will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Sobelsohn wishes there could be greater access at the planned express site.

“One thing that could be done to make things better is to make sure that the Arthur Capra Recreation Center library facility is open on Saturdays and maybe have it open at least one other night during the week after 6 p.m.,” he said.

D.C. Public Library is planning a community meeting on Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. on what to expect during the Southeast Library construction project.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with the correct address of the Southeast Library. 

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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