The Capitol Hill Civic Group walked from Grill on the Hill Thursday morning to the new Capitol Hill Library branch under construction at SW 26 and Hudson.
“This is going to have many more ways for this community to connect to the internet and a way array of information,” said Tim Rogers, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Library System.
With 17,000 feet of public space and at a cost of 4.1 million, the newest branch is being built on the same site and using the same structural bones of the old branch, only with heavy modifications.
The new branch will provide state of the art infrastructure for individuals and groups to stay informed both through paper books and through multiple digital means including over 20 internet-connected computers.
Even the old, outdated branch saw a heavy load of children doing homework and accessing digital information due to its being in the next block west of Capitol Hill Elementary School.
Numbers are expected to rise dramatically when the new branch opens.
MLS estimates construction will be completed later this year.
U.S. 5th District Representative Steve Russell attended the group and then the tour telling the group that he has always valued the contributions of libraries to individuals and to civic life.
He said that while still on active duty he had to move his family on a regular basis as is the case with most people in the military. And so, libraries were one place where they could connect with each new community.
“As we would move from place to place we homeschooled our children, because sometimes we would move in the middle of a school year or something like that,” Russell told Free Press.
“And libraries were essential to continue to do their education.”
That group has welcomed Russell in the past and has not had too many tough questions.
Many shook his hand and expressed their gratitude at his coming.
But, Mary Sosa, a longtime Capitol Hill civic leader, talked with Russell one-on-one after the tour in a more pointed way.
“I want you to know, Representative that I am not happy with your vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and some of the comments you made about why,” said Sosa.
Russell seemed somewhat uncomfortable, but willing to stay in the conversation.
He visited with Sosa for a few minutes where both exchanged comments about the issue.
After the conversation, Sosa told us she was not satisfied with his answer on why he voted the way he did.
“He dances around on that issue way too much,” she said. “I’ve talked to him about this before, and he did the same thing.”
It was another interesting day for the informal group that more and more politicians and public figures want to attend.