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New Anacostia Library Reflects Changing Neighborhood

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By Peter Granitz

The D.C. Public Libraries has opened its newest branch, in Anacostia. How will the library fit into a changing neighborhood?

The new library is about a mile from downtown Anacostia, which now boasts a new coffee shop and a couple of art galleries. Bill Hanna, a professor of urban planning at the University of Maryland, says these new amenities actually may not be what residents want.

“A lot of times when you’re redeveloping, you're redeveloping with gentrification and displacement,” says Hanna.

As for the new library, it's clear the neighborhood wants it. And Hanna says investments in community spaces like libraries always add to lower-income neighborhoods. But he isn't so sure about the building itself.

“I would guess there are a fair number of people who are in the gentry who would say what a nice thing to have a green library in our neighborhood. And I would also guess a lot of working class people couldn’t care less,” he says.

Hanna wonders whether the new library is being built for the people who live there, or for the people the city hopes to attract there.

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