ONE CITIZEN’S PROPOSAL:

How We Can Resolve the Library Closing Crisis

by Frank Smith
Here’s a way to solve three big problems all at once.

SEVERAL CITY ISSUES are of great concern to many of us residents. Three major ones— the announced closing of five Pratt Library branches; the fact that our public school libraries are small or sometimes nonexistent; and the reality that many residents need extensive city services and support—can actually be resolved together in a win-win way. Here’s how:

First, we invite schools and communities served by the five libraries to be closed to participate in dividing the books from the closed libraries to the nearby schools that need them.

Then we can establish a community library in each school which will be overseen by a body composed of representatives from the Pratt Library, the school, the community, and students from the school.

This community library would be staffed by personnel from the school and from the Pratt and would remain open into the evening hours to enable community use. This will partially answer the need in Baltimore for libraries to be closer to the people who are unlikely to travel to a regional library.

In regard to funding, with cooperative strategizing, the cost should still constitute a considerable savings for the Pratt Library. The school system would now have a fledgling library within its building at little cost to the system.

While working with the communities and schools in this process, we would also work with each school's community to identify the most critical needs, and work with that community to bring access to those needed services into the school building, again to remain open into the evening hours.

With the community library and other needed services provided within the school building into the evening hours, and with the community and students involved in creating and overseeing the program, use of the library and services can be expected to be significant.

Baltimore is a city in need and a city without the financial resources to do all things needed. Fortunately, we are still blessed with many persons who want to, and will, respond to the opportunity to improve their communities and schools.


Frank Smith, a former Methodist minister who now works with the homeless in Howard County, lives in Reservoir Hill. He is co-founder of The New Church in Spirit, which holds Sunday afternoon services in the Hampden United Methodist Church, 3449 Falls Road. He can be reached at Franksmith630@aol.com


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This story was published on September 5, 2001.