The Wash
A rendering of the new library
Design plan for the Southeast Library's renovated entrance (Courtesy of DCPL)

ANC commissioner still has concerns over DC library interim services

The commissioner of the Southeast Library Task Force hopes to put pressure on the DC Public Library System to extend the hours of an interim service provided by the DCPL at the Arthur Capper Community Center, during the renovations.

Commissioner David Sobelsohn plans to hold a press conference addressing his concerns with the Southeast Library interim services. The SE Library is set to close for renovations on January 4, and interim services have been set up around the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Sobelsohn is urging DCPL to extend the hours of a temporary service to provide greater access to the community.  

DC Public Library’s website shows that the Arthur Capper TechExpress will close at 6 p.m. every day except Thursday and will be closed on the weekend. Sobelsohn says these hours will make it difficult for people who attend school and work to use these services. He wants to see the hours extended to provide services at least one day on the weekend and later into the evening during the week.

 “It will make the facility all but inaccessible to anyone with a day job and to many school-age children as well. This is unacceptable,” Sobelsohn said.

The primary interim service for the SE Library’s closure will be the Northeast Library. The TechExpress was provided to serve those that do not live a short walk from the NE Library. Sobelsohn says an extension of hours would allow more people to use it, or residents who live farther away from the NE Library would have limited access and end up having to go to the NE Library anyway.

Map of Capitol Hill
The TechExpress center is for residents who live south of the Southeast Library.

“For people at the Potomac Gardens housing project to get to the northeast branch, that’s 1.4 miles. From the Harris Teeter, it’s 1.7 miles. We’re talking about a 30, 40-minute walk,” Sobelsohn told a community meeting.

Cindy, a Capitol Hill resident, usually takes her two children to the library on the weekends for books. She said she would struggle to make it to the Arthur Capper Community Center most days.

 “With work and the kids, we usually can’t get anything done until after 5,” Cindy said.

George Williams, Media Relations Manager for DCPL, said the NE Library has sufficient resources to support incoming library users and is preparing for an influx.

 “It is a full-service facility more than twice the size of the current Southeast Library, capable of accommodating a larger number of customers and providing a wide range of Library services,” Williams said in an email. “The Library is exploring augmenting staffing at the Northeast Library during the Southeast Library modernization.”

Cindy was OK with going the extra distance to the Northeast Library if the Southeast Library would get major improvements.

“It’s a short walk for us,” Cindy said. “We are excited.”

Williams said the library had received $186,000 for the TechExpress. holds pick-up, Wi-Fi and printers, and there will be no browsable collections housed at this location. The TechExpess will have access to computers, item returns and two digital navigators to assist with troubleshooting and essential services.

The Southeast Library
The current entrance to the Southeast Library

According to DCPL policy, interim services must be covered by the project budget. In June, the city council approved funds for services at the Arthur Capper Community Center, targeted to open in February. 

Sobelsohn will brief the public at 6:30 p.m. about his recommendations before the final community meeting on December 14 at 7 p.m. DCPL will also announce the opening date for the Arthur Capper Center. Sobelsohn hopes the community will come out to address their concerns. 

 “I’m hoping that we will fill that room and that it will be a standing room only. We need to show the powers that be how much the community cares about this,” Sobelsohn said.






Nicholas Fogleman

Nick Fogleman is a journalist covering the Capitol Hill neighborhood for the Wash. He is currently pursuing a master's in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University.

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