The Cherry Hill branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library is one of the least-used libraries in "The City that Reads," and perhaps for that reason it was an easy target for Mayor Schmoke's budget ax: Cherry Hill is one of eight Pratt branches scheduled to close next year as part of a $1.3 million cost cutting measure.
But community activists who have been trying to educate adults and children to use the library are loathe to see their efforts go for naught. They have come up with a plan to keep the library open at a new site with a skeleton staff for $50,000, a little more than a third of what it now costs to run the branch. The mayor has been noncommittal on the plan so far, but has praised volunteer efforts to replace lost city services.
There is something incongruous about the mayor's willingness to close libraries while continuing to support, for example, a city cable television station on which he hosts a program. There ought to be some way to accomodate citizens who want to keep the library open and make "The City That Reads" something more than an empty slogan.
An innovative mini-branch experiment is just what Baltimore needs in these hard times. Why not make the Cherry Hill library branch a model of how the city and residents can work together to preserve services everyone agrees are vital?