Thursday, June 15, 2006

DC Library Debate

Renovate, or build a new one? That's the decision facing Washington, D.C.

Mayor Anthony Williams wants a new Central Library built, while some, such as the Washington Post's Benjamin Forgey, think the old building should be renovated and kept as the city's main library.

All agree the current library is in serious disrepair. I've been in it myself. It was a soul-shaking experience I wouldn't care to repeat. There's a whiff of death in DC's public libraries, with the main branch emitting more noxious fumes than any other library I can remember visiting.

What I find interesting is the mayor's comments and justification for a new library. Remember, the DC libraries have been underfunded for years and have been allowed to fall to their current state by Mayor Williams and other local politicians. You can't pretend to care about your libraries when you allowed them to go to an early grave.

But now, suddenly the mayor got that old time library religion, and he wants to throw bushels of money into it. A new library will be the savior of DC! The mayor lists all the social ills it will help solve. If a great library is so important, why hasn't there been any action all these years?

The current MLK central library is in terrible shape, thanks to political apathy. Why should anyone believe a new building won't suffer the same fate? But they're serious this time, aren't they? Things will be different this time around, won't they?

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