Cooper has been chief librarian for the District of Columbia since 2006. A Dupont Circle resident, Cooper has helped oversee renovations on 14 city libraries, including the Mt. Pleasant Public Library that was reopened Wednesday.

Why did you choose to become a librarian?

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, where I learned at the local public library that there were other lives possible than those I saw being lived around me. That was a very powerful learning experience of what libraries can be, and I've lived my life to make sure others can have that experience.

What is your favorite thing about being a librarian?

The most fun thing is seeing the difference it makes for kids. Just watching little ones coming to the library and having a positive experience makes me smile.

Why are libraries important in D.C.?

In some ways I think they are more important here than in other places. Our community needs places to come together, especially because of the diversity we have. The library is the one place everyone can gather.

What does the future hold for D.C. libraries?

It's hard to see the future, but I am excited about the fact that there's some conversation going on about the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and what might be possible in that building to service the District. We'll be holding a meeting there on Sept. 19 to talk about that building's future.

What does it mean to you to be involved with all the library renovations?

Being involved with this many of the buildings is wonderfully exciting, but the greater honor is to know what goes on inside those buildings. We've worked together with staff and the library board and elected officials and so many people across the District, and there are so many more people coming to the libraries.

-- Abby Hamblin

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