The new ramp at the Noyes Library Credit: Diana Ditto

The oldest library in the Washington, D.C., area has a new ramp to provide access for disabled patrons and is moving forward on a partnership with the county for a $3.1 million renovation.

The Noyes Library in Kensington was founded in 1893, four years before the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Today, it’s a children’s library operated by Montgomery County Public Libraries.

On Feb. 29, the county completed the new wheelchair ramp to the building’s main entrance.

For Jan Jablonski, co-president of the nonprofit Noyes Children’s Library Foundation, the ramp was especially important. She suffers from ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and uses a wheelchair, and hadn’t been able to visit Noyes for more than three years until trying out the ramp March 1.

“I didn’t think I would get back into Noyes, but here I am,” Jablonski said, according to a press release from the foundation, which was founded in 1991 to preserve and improve the library.

Jablonski told Bethesda Beat this week more good news is on the horizon when it comes to the $3.1-million renovation project.


The project would create three floors of usable space in the library by adding an elevator, a stairway, a lower level with two bathrooms, work space for staff and a upper level with space for programs and classes.

Jablonski said the foundation, which has pledged to raise $1.6 million toward the renovation, expects to finalize a formal memorandum of understanding with the county next week. In January, library supporters expressed frustration with the pace of the renovation planning process and said it had led to a rising cost estimate.

After a March 7 County Council committee hearing on Noyes and other library system capital projects, county staff worked out a financial plan to move forward with the renovation that was immediately endorsed by the foundation’s board.


The county is expected to include the remaining $1.5 million in funding for the renovation project in its next six-year capital budget, which is expected to be approved in May. The project would make the Noyes Library building compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. 


Jan Jablonski, co-president of the Noyes Foundation, accessed the Noyes Library with her wheelchair for the first time in more than three years. Photos by Matthew Jablonski (left) and Katie Rangos (right).


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