Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Mount Pleasant Library war

Not sure if you've noticed on the neighborhood listserves, but the Mt. Pleasant public library, at 16th and Lamont has been the scene of a big battle. The library just closed for renovation, and some people are complaining about the renovation plans, saying the new handicap ramp is too long, plus something to do with fire safety, that the ramp will block access to a backyard on Lamont Street.

They're pretty fired up about it too (no pun intended), holding a rally and even occupying the library. All the hubbub seems to be coming from a group called the District Library Dynamos, with long-time activist-of-all-trades Chris Otten doing a lot of the posts to local listserves and such.

To me, it's kind of surprising that people are getting so bent out of shape. It's not like they're closing the library for good, and there will be an interim library opening on Mt. Pleasant Street NW on April 26. People in wheelchairs can still get into the library once it's renovated, and the fire thing seems kind of pointless. But maybe I'm missing something.

Here's a video about protestors occupying the library:

Photo by Mr. T in DC


  1. So wait - were people protesting solid dance moves? That was painful to watch.

  2. i saw them the other day and while i'm inclined to be sympathetic i was quickly frustrated by several things:
    -- i couldn't tell what they were protesting about
    -- almost everyone there was white and looked happily over educated-not exactly a representative sample of the neighborhood(s)
    -- if this is such a big deal how did i miss it when i live 2 blocks from the library and ride past it almost every day? did they not want people to know they were protesting?
    --they were saying don't close the library but our library is a dump (as my out of towner boyfriend said after a visit) why shouldn't they close it and renovate. it'll only be closed for 2 weeks after all.

  3. NIMBY! Free Money for No Work! Down with everything!

    Some people will never be satisfied. I think the renovation plan is fine, and in this time of budget deficits and scarce resources for libraries in general, I'll take it...

  4. the fire access is a red herring...hmp has its panties in an a twist because they didnt get all the changes in the original plan they wanted..and this is a way of slowing thigs down and buying them more time to press their agenda forward..thank you fay armstrong.

  5. Hm, interesting. HMP = Historic Mount Pleasant, right?

  6. Libraries provide essential services (computer access, research assistance, career resources, spanish language materials, story time, classroom space, community space and so much more). This library is desperately in need of a renovation to better provide these services - especially to the lower income residents of MP and CH. My thinking is that the people that really need the library (no computer access at home, no money for books) are not the ones who are over concerned about how a ramp might look. Honestly, the beautiful Carnegie library has been crumbling for years - I can't wait for a beautiful and thoughtful renovation for all the residents! I'm happy to put up with a temporary location for a while.

  7. This is a good example of people protesting more for their own sense of self-righteousness than out of any desire to accomplish anything. Makes me kinda glad I don't live in Mt. Pleasant.

  8. Residents have been begging for a renovation for many many years as our library seriously needs one. It's an original Carnegie library built in 1925!

    Plans were on the table in 2006 to do a renovation within the current footprint of the library. Then Ginnie Cooper was hired as the new Chief Librarian. She came from the Brooklyn Library system.

    After a few months being here, suddenly renovation plans were off the table, without any public justification. In 2008, DC Public Library (DCPL) and Chief Cooper came back to the community and said we want to renovate and expand the library.... an expansion no one has asked for.

    Now this expansion is going to make it harder to get into the library for seniors and residents with disabilities, plus will force them to enter the rear of the library. It's not safe at night, not welcoming, and seems a bit unfair given the current accessibility ramp is at the front of the building.

    Do you think that is cool for our grandmas out there, or how about your neighbor with a cane, or perhaps a young mom with a stroller?

    For more info >>

    Feel free to contact me,
    Chris Otten

  9. c'mon, chris, sure you might not like the details of this, but putting out a video where the narrator at the beginning is talking about how "i think the city might be giving this to a developer so they can turn it into condos"? if it wasn't such a laughable position it would be sad.

    why don't you just spread the rumor that it's going to dipped in gold and access will be limited to white men age 60+ whose suits are made from the skins of poor neighborhood children who were fattened up and harvested specifically for that purpose? because it's just as plausible.

    when your argument for a position is so ridiculous, you stand zero chance of having any traction with those who hold the power in this situation. good luck, but you've already lost the fight.


  10. LOL@ IMGoph. Without Otten's rumors, there would be no protesters.

  11. I filled out Chris Otten's one sided, Soviet Russia "survey" about the library one time and I answered positively, and then I received a response why I would think this and trying to change my mind.

    The Library Renaissance and Dynamos people are crazy and seem to have some weird ax to grind about everything. If they were in charge literally nothing would ever get done.

  12. I cannot believe this kind of conflict of interest is allowed to happen unchecked. After I first read about this ANC commissioner holding up the library, I learned he has used money from the ANC to fund his personal group. This is the kind of corruption is what we've come to expect from DC government. Maybe it's time to get rid of Mr. Graham and find someone who will be responsible with our money! Where are the reporters?

  13. susan where you referring to greg edwards ancd1 mt.pleasant?

  14. I went to one community meeting because I thought it would be great, instead Mr. Graham was listening to this person, Otten. Then my ANC, Adams Morgan gave him money. I can tell you something isn't right about this. Who is paying whom and for what? That's what I want to know. dynamos... how about corruptimos, that's more like it.

  15. The baseless name calling once again hides the facts of the situation.

    The ramp DCPL is planning to build is not ADA compliant.

    The expansion will put people's lives in danger by blocking emergency access. That's it.

    There is no conpiracy here, other than the library making all of it's decisions behind closed doors.


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