Thursday, July 20, 2006

An update on the Tenley-Friendship Library

The Tenley Library rebuild is basically at a stand still and has been for about a year since DCPL cancelled the contract with Hess Corporation and decided to go back to the drawing board. (As painful as that decision was, it was supported by many in the community -- myself included -- as the plans were poor both in quality and in scope.)

The Library System is working on opening an interim branch that will be located at 4200 Wisconsin Avenue (in the strip with Ruby Tuesdays). No date yet on when that will open. They had promised September, but I peeked in the window a week or so ago and saw no signs of anything resembling work to set up a library.

As President of the Friends of the Tenley-Friendship Library, I have been very distressed that we have been unable to get any movement from the Library System on resuming the design process. I honestly don't understand the lack of movement. Keep in mind, that Tenley is not alone in this situation. There are three other neighborhoods that are without library services as well (Anacostia, Benning, and Shaw).

In the meantime, the Library does have a mobile unit, known as the Xtreme Mobile. It visits each neighborhood once or twice a week. I saw the "thing" the other day parked on Chesapeake Street by Wilson High School. I cannot imagine a more desserted stretch of road in the summer. I stopped and went in (the door was closed, btw, and there was no sign on the outside indicating that it was open, but I knocked and the very friendly librarian opened the door). It is stocked with
3 public access computers and a smattering of books. Residents canorder books and have them delivered via the Xtreme Mobile. Books checked out there can be returned to any library (and vice a versa).

I have suggested to the library folks that they find a more prominent location for the mobile unit -- perhaps in front of the closed library itself. I don't know if they will respond to this request.

The Library has just hired (finally!) a new permanent Director (they have been without one for almost 3 years now). Her name is Ginnie Cooper. She comes most recently from Brooklyn Public Library System. I believe she starts in a week or so. I hope the 4 closed branches will be at the top of her (very long) list of things she will tackle. Meanwhile, I suggest folks express their displeasure with the lack of library services to the Council and to the Library Board of Trustees.

Martha Saccocio
President, Friends of the Tenley-Friendship Library

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