Adopted by the Membership on May 19, 2022.
WHEREAS, When the Shepherd Park Library opened in 1990, it culminated residents’ five-year struggle with the landowner’s plan for a Wendy’s on the site; and
WHEREAS students from Shepherd Elementary School took their “Books Not Burgers” campaign to the City Council, aided by savvy adults such as Juanita E. Thornton, the library’s namesake; and
WHEREAS, The DC Public Library’s (DCPL) Master Facilities Plan closes our library. The only full-service library it plans to close; and
WHEREAS, The DCPL Master Plan closes our library in favor of building a library for Brightwood Park and Manor Park. The plan thus creates a vast new library catchment area and needlessly pits several DC neighborhoods against each other; and
WHEREAS In contrast to our closing, the Master Plan calls for building several new libraries elsewhere in the District. While there is a genuine need for new libraries, enfranchising other areas of the city while disenfranchising another is myopic; and
WHEREAS, There is no suitable location south of our library that could serve the plan’s vast, new catchment area. Some advocate, for example, for a library at Walter Reed. Even if a supersize branch were possible, the Walter Reed developers and the city have rejected the idea; and
WHEREAS DCPL claims all options are open. Yet, DCPL placed closing our library in the city’s capital budget; and
WHEREAS While our library catchment area, as gerrymandered by DCPL, has fewer residents than any other in the DCPL system, it ranks high in use. In the last pre-Covid ranking, 2019, the library’s use fell squarely in the middle of all 25 branches on four of the five criteria gauging library use — visits, materials checked out, computer use, and program participation. In meeting rooms, it ranked fifth of all branch libraries; and
WHEREAS, Our library doubled its circulation in the spring quarter of 2021. Recently it had one of the top three totals of Spanish-language titles in the DCPL system. It also is closer to its pre-pandemic circulation level than any other branch; and
WHEREAS closing our library will deprive our residents of a neighborhood center. It will put a library beyond the reach of children, walkers, and those in the northern part of the ward. Closing will also place a significant burden on the small DC Takoma Park branch; and
WHEREAS, DCPL has adopted a budget that closes our library without any effort to collect community feedback. Nor did DCPL make any effort to measure the impact of closing our library, and;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Friends of Juanita Thornton-Shepherd Park Public Library that it opposes DCPL’s plan and capital budget project to close or move from its current location, the Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library; and.
Furthermore, we favor building a new library that serves the Brightwood and Manor Park neighborhoods.