A Central Library to Be Proud Of (District of Columbia)

Bruce Katz
Bruce Katz Founding Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab - Drexel University

June 19, 2006

Letter to the Editor

I agree with Mayor Anthony A. Williams that a new central library should grace the old Convention Center site. The current facility is saddled with structural challenges and a negative image that cannot be overcome through renovation, no matter how extensive.

Across the country, libraries are being transformed into interactive, innovative and enticing places. The services they provide—literacy hubs, computer training, Web access, classes for those learning English, adult education, homework help—reflect the needs and demands of an increasingly diverse society.

A new central library, as in Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, would be the heart of a new system and an invitation for a broad range of our citizens. It would also place an indelible civic stamp on a growing part of downtown, providing a cultural and educational destination for millions of residents, workers and tourists.

Washington is a first-class global city; it deserves more than a third-class central library.