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Nearly $12m later, Mount Pleasant library back in business

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Local,DC

The Mount Pleasant Public Library reopened Wednesday after $11.7 million in renovations, as Mayor Vincent Gray confirmed his commitment to keep the library renovations coming.

Fourteen of the District's 25 libraries have already undergone renovations.

"We are well on our way to being able to rehabilitate, renovate and rebuild every library in the District of Columbia," Gray said.

The library was built in 1925, using money from famous businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It is the third-oldest public library still being used in Washington.

"One of his principles was that after those investments were made, the community needed to make a commitment to preserve those libraries," Gray said. "That's exactly what we've done in the last six to seven years."

The renovations helped to modernize and open up the building, taking it from 16,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet and expanding its computer's and children's areas, among other improvements. However, District-based design firm Core also wanted to maintain much of the original architecture.

One way it did that was through preserving murals in the children's area painted by Washington artist and illustrator Aurelius Battaglia, best known for his work on the Walt Disney Studios' films "Pinocchio," "Fantasia" and "Dumbo."

Another special feature of the library is it's vast collection of Spanish books. Kristin Scotchmer, executive director of nearby Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School, said that is one of the best resources for her students.

"The goal for our kids is biliteracy, so the library helps them find Spanish-language books that are on the right level, and the librarians teach them how they can explore literature in an authentic way," Scotchmer said.

Gray said his commitment to city libraries is not only for children, but also for adults.

"The way these are being restored and rebuilt, they've become great convening places for community groups," Gray said. "We've expanded learning opportunities and expanded places for people to come together."

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