Overdue Reforms at the Pratt
Editor: The mayor really should stop the Pratt Library from snitching pennies unjustly and have it start using a sound financing system.
The price of photocopying at the Pratt has just gone up to 20 cents. According to two librarians there, the result is patrons tearing pages out of books rather than paying a price so high and so much more than a regularly used machine costs to operate. In the end, they say, the library has to replace some of the damaged books, thus decreasing some of the revenue the photo copy price increase brings in.
Also, when charging for overdue books, the library includes Sundays. But you can't return the books on Sundays because the library is closed. Someone, please take the library to small claims court over this; there's not justification for it.
To make this the city that reads, it would be wise to stop overcharging readers -- particularly young ones whose values are partly formed by their experience with books.
Editor: Notwithstanding the interest with which I read Barbara H. Smith's article on the game of bocce in Baltimore, I am sorry to see that neither she nor your editors took the time to check the correct spelling of the Italian word bocce before going to print. The misspelled word appears not only in the title but several times throughout the article.
In Italian, the singular form of the noun is boccia. It denotes only the small wooden ball which the players throw. The smaller ball which the players try to hit is the boccino. The game is called bocce. There is no such thing as boccie in Italian.
The grammatical rule is based on the stress of the word. The ''o'' in boccia carries the stress, hence in the plural form the ''o'' will still carry the stress, the final -cia becomes a final -ce.
If, hypothetically speaking, in the singular form boccia the penultimate vowel ''i'' were to carry the stress, then the plural would be formed with a final -cie, in order to enable the same penultimate vowel to continue to carry the stress, as in the singular form of the noun (again, this is only hypothetical, because the stress is not on the penultimate letter).
The writer is an assistant professor of Italian at Loyola College.
Editor: Your correspondent James R. Considine (letter, July 2) takes issue with the mayor and city government about ''lack of cooperation'' with the Baltimore Road Runners Club.
The mayor and the responsible agencies are to be commended for exercising sound judgment on how the city's limited resources are used and selecting for support those events which are most favorable for both the people and the economics of the city.
The cost of accommodating marathons and other large races is far from nominal when all factors are considered. A major race requires the assignment of scores of police officers, the closing of miles of city streets for as much as half a day, the assignment of public works and transportation personnel to erect and
remove signs, barricades and cones, clean up and remove trash, and the redirection of a large part of the public transit system. Such assignments obviously remove key personnel from other demands.
In addition to the direct and indirect expense to city taxpayers, many businesses and individuals are inconvenienced or adversely affected by such events. Ambulances and fire protection must be made available and rerouted. Residents of the immediate areas of the event can be immersed in rerouted traffic for long periods.
Mr. Considine seems to believe that it is better to inconvenience north-south traveling motorists than east-west types. In any case, the impact is much greater than described.
The city is fortunate to enjoy many fine celebrations in its downtown, including parades, fireworks and other events with broad public appeal. They add to the city in many ways. The spectator appeal of distance races and marathons, however, lies somewhere between apple bobbing and watching the grass grow.
These races are primarily of interest to the participants. They contribute little to the life and texture of the city's heart. They can be held at many other locations.
The Road Runners' charitable contributions to worthy causes are obviously appreciated. But it is unfair of them to expect the city, at taxpayer expense, to accommodate their every demand.
Perhaps someone should tell them that most of those people along the curb are not watching the race. They're just waiting to cross the street.
W. Scott Ditch.
Editor: It has been amusing to watch over the years Maryland state officials scramble to secure corporations that announce their intention to move into the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. A bidding war usually ensues between Maryland and Virginia. Lists of incentives, offers and counter-offers are exchanged, and typically Maryland is the loser, as was the case with the General Dynamics Corp.