Give Feedback on DCPL Naming Policy

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Sunset at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Twitter/@DCPL

DC Public Library (DCPL) is hosting a virtual community workshop for District residents to provide feedback on the Library’s Space and Program Naming Policy on Thursday, Apr. 28 at 6:30 p.m. DC residents can discuss and make recommendations about the policy.

The workshop comes in the wake of public outcry following a Jan. 26 vote by the DCPL Board of Trustees to name the main auditorium in the renovated Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (901 G St. NW) after Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos. In December 2021, Bezos donated $2.7 million to child literary program Beyond the Book.

DCPL Director Reyes-Gavilan apologized for recommending the naming during a Feb. 9th DC Council oversight hearing. “This process needs to be reevaluated, and I hear that loud and clear,” he said. “I would like personally apologize for the aggravation the naming process has caused.”

The Amazon billionaire himself demurred in the face of backlash. In a Feb. 3 letter, Bezos suggested DCPL officials instead name the auditorium for Black author Toni Morrison.

There is already a DCPL naming policy in place. The 2019 “Naming Policy for DC Public Library Spaces and Programs” outlines the criteria for naming of interior and exterior spaces in honor of specific people. The process for naming buildings themselves is outlined separately in DC Code.

The policy singles out staff members or others who contributed “extraordinary service” to DCPL, as well as donors who made significant financial contributions to the library. It also calls for “due diligence” to ensure that names will reflect positively on the library system and will not constitute a conflict of interest.

Registration is required. A link to the virtual session will be emailed an hour prior to the event. The event is for DC residents only.