What reopening the Martin-Luther King Jr. Memorial Library means for the homeless community

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in 2017. Photo by Ken Martin

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the main library in the D.C. public library system and a hub for many in the downtown homeless community, reopened with a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 24. It had closed on March 4, 2017, for a three-year renovation. 

[Read more: The library’s closure underscored the need for a downtown day center, which opened two years later]

Concerns about COVID-19 have affected the library’s opening and the main library has limited services for now. The building will be open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and  3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., with deep cleaning being conducted in the hour between those two windows of time. The MLK Library is still offering the Peer Outreach Program, in which Certified Peer Specialists trained through the Department of Behavioral Health meet with people experiencing homelessness to help them obtain important documents, get access to housing, and serve as role models. 

According to the D.C. Public Library, Jerome Thomas, one of the peer outreach specialists, can be reached on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The phone number to reach Thomas is 202-486-4801. 

Large library locations throughout the city, including the MLK location, will resume limited operations on Nov. 9, according to a recent press release. These operations include computer access, checking out books, and using restrooms. Social distancing and the mayor’s indoor mask requirement will be enforced.

Issues |Community

Region |Downtown|Northwest|Ward 2|Washington DC

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