D.C.’s central library is set to reopen next month after a $211 million renovation that preserves the historic interior and adds light, a grand reading room and a rooftop garden.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library will open its doors on Sept. 24 after six years of work. News4 got a sneak peek. Inside, it’s a completely different building.
“To convert this from what was a 50-year-old box of books to something that is focused on people and a desire to learn and interact is a stunning achievement,” said DC Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan.
There are familiar spaces from the past, such as the lobby and the original mural of King. But it’s no longer a dark, brick building. Light soars through skylights, large windows and wide-open spiral staircases.
Photos: Here's a Look Inside DC's Renovated Main Library
There's space for emerging technologies, a tool library, a cafe, a children’s room with a slide, and a grand reading room with artwork hanging from above. There are meeting rooms for public use. And the room for local historical documents was upgraded.
There’s a 290-seat auditorium and a rooftop garden where you’ll be able to escape and enjoy the view.
Before construction, the library was known for being a hub for homeless people who would seek refuge. The library is for all residents and visitors, Reyes-Gavilan said. He said he expected people from all walks of life to stop in to peruse books, use a computer or just visit the bathroom.
The library will have more than 1 million books and host an estimated 1 million visitors per year.