DC Community Fights to Save Tiny Library, a Monument to Inequality

The Deanwood Library kiosk located in Ward 7 of Washington DC is one of the nation’s smallest libraries– just 120 square feet. No longer a functioning library, locals are now fighting to save this historic structure from demolition.

The one-room aluminum kiosk served as the community’s only library from 1976 until 2008. The kiosk contained a few thousand books, one librarian, and no computers. Three such library kiosks were built in primarily Black neighborhoods east of the river, while large libraries were built in other parts of the city. Thien Vinh Nguyen of the Friends of Deanwood Library explained to WUSA9, “During that time in the 1970s the only libraries that were built or existed were west of the river, the Carnegie libraries, these grand big libraries, so we got this kiosk.”

In 2020 a car crashed into the kiosk, damaging the glass walls and prompting the city to slate the kiosk for demolition. After learning of the proposed demolition, community members created a petition calling on the government to preserve the kiosk. In their petition, they wrote that the kiosk “stands today as a monument to inequality in Ward 7 in Washington DC.” Advocates want to reimagine the kiosk as a community space and historic landmark.

Since the petition was launched, demolition of the kiosk has been paused. However, city officials have said that the structure cannot be maintained with tax-payer dollars if it is not functioning as a library.