In response to Baltimore's budget crisis, the Enoch Pratt Free Library board today voted to close eight of its 28 branch libraries.
In addition, the board agreed to furlough all library employees for six days, reduce book budgets by 22 percent, close the main library on Fridays after Dec. 13 and lay off 41 employees.
"These are the most appropriate steps we could take, although they are still painful," said Anna A. Curry, director of the library system.
The branches slated to close:
* Canton, 1030 S. Ellwood Ave.
* Clifton, 2001 N. Wolfe St.
* Cherry Hill, 2492 Giles Road
* Dundalk, 912 Dundalk Ave.
* Gardenville, 5427 Belair Road
* Hollins/Payson, 31 S. Payson St.
* Morrell Park, 2446 Washington Blvd.
* Pimlico, 5001 Park Heights Ave.
While the shutdowns are in response to the city's budget crisis, brought on by state aid cuts and the recession, library officials said the branches are likely to remain closed permanently.
Curry said that the decision on which branches to close was determined by several factors, including operation cost, usage, proximity to other branches and the importance of the branch within the library's long-term plan to streamline and modernize service.
"Each branch has a score and that score was a determining factor in the decision that was made," Curry said.
The closings will take effect during the week of Dec. 2. Also, as a re
sult of the furloughs, all city libraries will close from Dec. 20 through Dec. 25.
The library system's $16 million budget has been cut by $1.3 million, or 8 percent, because of the city's fiscal crisis. The cut came as a result of a $27 million reduction in state aid to Baltimore.
The crisis also has prompted Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to close schools for five days, shut five firehouses and eliminate 571 jobs citywide.