- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2011

Mayor Vincent C. Gray says he has found $316,000 in the city’s budget to keep the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library open on Sundays.

The funding restores service at the popular downtown facility to seven days a week, with Sunday hours at 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Mr. Gray, Democrat, made the announcement Friday ahead of a public event at the library on Sunday alongside Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper and Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Libraries, Parks, Recreation and Planning.

Mr. Wells pushed for restored funding at a Wednesday breakfast meeting with Mr. Gray and the full council. While acknowledging the mayor “had to make some tough choices” this year, he said Sunday library service should be a priority on the city’s budgetary wish list.


Mr. Wells said that after he was assigned to the libraries committee over the summer, it became clear that funding for the institution at 901 G Street, NW, was the No. 1 priority for the library system.

The breakfast “was not the first time I had talked to the mayor about this,” he said.

Many students do their homework at the library, groups use its meeting space and under-employed residents use their free time on Sunday to look for jobs on the library’s computers, Mr. Wells said.

Restoration of Sunday hours will make it easier for low-income D.C. residents to take advantage of free tax preparation services from Community Tax Aid, a local nonprofit, early next year, according to council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

“Had it been closed on Sundays, hundreds of District residents would miss out on this vital service,” Mr. Evans said.

Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, is also seeking last-minute money from the mayor. He and members of the beleaguered Lincoln Theatre’s board asked the administration for a sit-down to discuss the fate of the U Street landmark, claiming it will close by year’s end if they do not get a cash infusion from the city.

A spokesman for Mr. Graham said the board is meeting with Victor Hoskins, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, on Tuesday to discuss the issue. Mr. Graham will not attend the meeting because he is scheduled to be at the council’s legislative session.

Mr. Graham said he is pleased that the MLK Library will be funded and looks forward to the board’s meet-up with Mr. Hoskins, “in the hope there will be a similar immediate solution.”