Save Our Library

Friends Membership Meeting
Thursday, May 16, 2024
6:30 PM

Zoom Session

The link will be sent to the Friends and Shepherd lists.

Our Struggle — Then

In the 1980s, a property owner tore down an apartment building with plans for a Wendy’s restaurant in its place. The Shepherd Park community was outraged. Shepherd’s Elementary students coined the chant “Books Not Burgers!” They declared they needed a library more than one more fast-food joint.

With the help of savvy adults like Juanita E. Thornton, the city bought the land for a library, and the D.C. Public Library System (DCPL) built the facility. The Shepherd Park- Juanita Thornton Library — still the most recent in operation designed by an African American architect — was dedicated on July 29, 1990. Thornton died in 1992, and DCPL named the library in her honor. While the library’s name is Shepherd Park, it also serves Colonial Village, North Portal Estates, North Takoma, and the new residents of Walter Reed.

Juanita Thornton

Our Struggle — Now

DCPL’s master facilities plan called for new libraries for Wesley Heights-Cathedral Heights, Dupont Circle-Adams Morgan, Eckington, Deanwood, etc. When these libraries open, DCPL will close some tiny libraries attached to rec centers. However, in exchange for building a Brightwood Park-Manor Park library, DCPL wanted to shut down our library. That would make it the only full-service library DCPL ever closed. DCPL also had the gall to say we could use the Silver Spring Library. Really? Can you imagine telling a child if they want a book to ride their bike to Silver Spring?

Our library’s operation is in the middle of all branches for such indicators as patronage, circulation, computer use, meeting rooms, or library program attendance. All this despite being hemmed in by Maryland, Rock Creek Park, and Walter Reed.

Through meetings and testimony, we took our case to the City Council. With your help, we prevailed! The Council voted to keep our branch open. Now, with a renovation planned, we will plan our library’s future.