May 19, 2022 Friends Resolution to Continue Our Library at Its Location

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.