Plans for local library underway


The D.C. Public Library has begun the process of reconstructing and renovating its Georgetown branch, nearly a year after a fire severely damaged the building and the library collection.

The Georgetown-based architecture firm Martinez and Johnson, which is handling the restoration, is currently in its “design phase,” in which architects solicit ideas and feedback from Georgetown residents and library patrons. They will hold several community meetings between now and the end of the design process, which is expected to take 10 months.

Both the architects and the DCPL want to complete the design and permit process in a timely manner so construction can begin on schedule in the spring or summer of 2009.

“We want to push this, and have the library re-open in calendar year 2010,” Ginny Cooper, the Chief Librarian of the DC Public Library, said at a Citizen’s Association of Georgetown meeting on March 10.

Because the architects are at the beginning of the design process, they were only able to present basic plans for the renovation at the first community meeting on March 12. Current plans call for an expanded children’s room, additional spaces for meeting and study rooms and an upgrade to the area which houses the library’s rare books collection.

“We want to make the library as flexible as possible,” Cooper said.

In addition to reconstructing the library building, the DCPL is concerned about restoring the Peabody Collection, an assemblage of rare books and records relating to the history of Georgetown. Mark Greek, who is working to preserve the Peabody Collection, estimated that they were able to save 95 percent of the collection from the fire. However, certain parts of the collection, most notably historical photographs, were damaged significantly. Greek said that the library is working closely with the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian in the restoration process.

Meanwhile, the DCPL continues to search for an interim library. Georgetown Park Mall is one site under consideration.

—John Cooke

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