PoP Preview – The Newly Renovated Petworth Library

On Wed. afternoon I had the great honor of being invited to check out the newly renovated Petworth library, located at the intersection of Kansas, Upshur and Georgia Ave, NW (technically 4200 Kansas Ave, NW), which will re-open this Monday, Feb. 28. I was once again able to meet with Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper who we last met with back in mid-Jan. to tour the new Tenley-Friendship library.

The Petworth renovation is closest to the Georgetown renovation in that they were historic buildings that kept their good bones and were improved upon rather than brand new buildings like Shaw and Tenleytown. As a result there isn’t the same jaw dropping reaction when you see it but the improvements are equally impressive.

Their Web site says:

The library will re-open on Monday, February 28, 2011. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 10:30 am.

The library will host a Grand Opening Party on Saturday, March 12 from 10 am to 4 pm.

The library will feature:

· Welcoming spaces with comfortable seating and lounge chairs
· More than 40,000 books, DVDs and other library materials with a capacity to hold up to 80,000
· Children’s Story Room for storytelling and other children’s activities
· Dedicated areas for adults, children and teens
· 40 computers with free Wi-Fi Internet access
· Laptops for personal use or computer training classes
· 100-person community room connecting to a new outdoor patio
· 12-person conference room
· Two quiet study rooms
· New and restored woodwork throughout
· Parking lot
· Landscape and site improvements
· New cupola and balustrade constructed according to the original 1938 design

When asked what the most striking features of the new library were, Chief Librarian Cooper didn’t hesitate in her response:

First – the area is now flooded with light;
Second – the map on the floor upon entering is truly striking (photo after the jump);
Third – the basement community room which used to be a garage storage space was expanded and can now sit over 100 people;
Fourth – though the cupola was in the original architectural plans it was not built until now.

The other incredible improvement is simply the amount of public space. Though the total space had always been around 18,000 square feet before the renovation only 9,500 was public space and today 14,200 square feet is used for public space (an increase of over 42%).

The Petworth library has always been a gem for the community and today it really looks like one. And tomorrow it will no longer be a diamond in the rough.

As always the photos (after the jump) are far more impressive than any written description I can give.

Next up on our library tour will be the Mt. Pleasant library set to be completed around the end of the 2011.

Lots more photos after the jump.

Fantastic map on first floor seen after walking through front door

Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper

Huge basement meeting room

Newly constructed cupola

Will look even better when Georgia Ave beautification project is completed

46 Comment

  • a beautiful building inside and out. petworth residents are lucky to have such a nice library. the floor map is very cool.

    i am really pleased to see they kept the old building and improved it rather than tearing down & rebuilding. not familiar with the project, but i hope the decision was more than just a cost-saving measure.

  • Looks great. Can’t wait.
    Library, park, swimming pool. Now we just need to raise the bar on academics within walking distance that isn’t a lottery.

  • I’ve never checked out the book selection, but I do hope they have, or can acquire, a decent collection before books are done away with entirely. Now, I have my own preferences when I walk into a bookstore or a library, but I’d like to see materials that resonate with the community: Spanish language literature, African American history, local geography and history, etc.

    • I’ve always had luck with the online request system. A particular branch might not have what you want, but you can always get it sent there from somewhere else in the system.

    • Prior to the renovation they had the materials that you mention at the Petworth Library.

  • Didn’t know Georgia Avenue was going to be beatified. Next in line after John Paul? 🙂

  • LEED-EB certified! Well done.

  • Now all I’ve gotta do is train our little son not to destroy books and this will work out great!

  • Beautiful!

    Nice to see a place with age like that so nicely restored — will feel great. Lucky Petworth.

    This is going to be an excellent way to get kids reading. Cannot wait to go there sometime.

  • Looks great. Ginnie Cooper is doing an amazing job. The details from the floor to the furniture are outstanding. It would be so easy to just do some modern upgrades and fill it with cheap officemax furniture but this is above and beyond. Can’t wait to see the Mount Pleasant Library when complete. I envision it being part shaw library with the modern addition and part historic restoration like petworths.

  • Was the floor map always there, or was it part of the renovation?

  • What a beautiful building!

  • “Will look even better when Georgia Ave beatification project is completed”

    Who’s the new saint?!

  • Wow. This reminds me of my college library – it even makes me want to assign myself a problem set so that I can go sit in it for hours! Really, really beautiful.

  • I’m so stoked about this, since I live very nearby. What a beautiful renovation!

    Can’t wait to bring our little child-to-be to the reading room!

  • I visited this library probably shortly before it was closed for the renovation.
    As an older person I was impressed by how little was different from the old libraries I was used to from New York City, where I am from and where there are many libraries built by Andrew Carnegie.
    The library had its charm but was very shabby. Its charm did not make up for its decrepitude, however.
    I am happy to know that the public space has expanded as there seemed to be so little, especially given the size of the building.
    It looks great now and as a nearby resident (in northernmost Columbia Heights) I am anxious to visit.
    BTW, I am also a librarian, having begun my library career at the Tremont Branch of the New York Public Library in 1969.

  • Awesome. A proper community library is worth a thousand hipster bars.

  • It looks freaking awesome!

  • Great post, fotos. Props to pops and the DC libraries.
    Now let’s keep the ring tones and voices muted in the ‘brary.
    It makes me feel like a grumpy old guy to say it, but some people don’t understand that a library is supposed to be quiet. Talking on the cellular telephone is not quiet. Please answer outside.

  • The pics look fantastic – out of pure curiosity, does anyone know when the plan to build and renovate these libraries was put into place? Was it done when Anthony Williams was mayor? Fenty?

    • According to the WaPo: “Many of the [library construction/renovation] projects originated under former mayor Anthony Williams (D) as part of a capital construction project he launched in 2005.”

  • Any idea when the CH library on 16th & Lamont will ever be done with renovations? That thing has been under construction forever! And the Mt. Pleasant temporary location is tiny.

    • The library at 16th and Lamont is the Mt. Pleasant library (sorry, Columbia Heights has enough going for it, don’t appropriate our library too!) It’s scheduled to be completed end of 2011.
      I may have to make my way to this library in the interim to check it out – it looks sweet.

  • Love, love, love that floor map – what a fantastic way to ensure the library is an integral part of the neighborhood. I read a lot and just before the reno began was thinking “I should totally get a library card so I can stop spending so much $$ on books.” These pictures only make me want to visit more.

  • looks great, i can’t wait!

  • sweet! think i just found my new third place.

  • PoP – looks like we are going back to basics!! I love this and will visit this branch as well as the Shaw branch. So books stores are going out of business and library are coming back into vogue. Everything old is new again. In this economy, investing in something like a local library is major.

  • How long before that new library smell is replaced by the smell of someone having urinated in the stacks?

    • +1

      Its sad but true. The new Shaw library already smells like body odor and it seems like they’ve given up trying to keep it clean. Last time I went the tables were dirty and there was food and wrappers all over the floor around the tables. Sad state of affairs.

  • This is gorgeous. I’ll only be living in Petworth for a few more months but will surely be taking advantage until I move

  • Great post.

    Excellent for Petworth.

    Andrew Carnegie couldn’t have done it better.

    Splendid news.

  • I am looking forward to bringing my daughter to the new and improved library. I grew up going to that library. Glad to see the fireplace is still there. 🙂 Great job!

  • Great job! Can’t wait to bring my daughter fr a visit. i grew up goint to Petworth Library. Glad to see the fireplace is still there!!!!

  • Gorgeous! I live nearby and will visit soon. Great addition to the neighborhood.

  • As mentioned earlier, the only remaining issues being:

    A) Will the hours accommodate any reasonable working person or student who needs someplace to study?

    B) Are we going to allow the homeless to soil all the seats?

    C) Is the on hand book selection going to cater to young adult readers and romance novels, or are we going to start a trend to having books that are actually useful?

    D) Is it going to be quiet enough to actually read?

    • Many communities are now building homeless-specific libraries in an effort to curb the problem of homeless persons soiling all the seats.

    • The hours will be dictated by the city budget. As it stands, all DC public libraries are open late 2 nights a week and for 8 hours on Saturdays. That’s pretty great considering how other public library systems are faring around the country.

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