Save the Pratt

UP and DOWN with Baltimore

December 12, 1991

FOLLOWING is a statement signed by 27 Baltimore writers, among them Elizabeth Spires, Madison Bell, Anne Tyler, Lucille Clifton, Taylor Branch, John Barth, Josephine Jacobsen, Clarinda Harriss Raymond, Colby Rodowsky and John Waters.

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How can Baltimore declare itself to be "The City That Reads," emblazon this slogan on all its public benches and public vehicles, and at the same time choose to close branches of the public library and drastically cut back on Central Library services? As writers, those of us who have signed [this statement] have some understanding of irony, but this is an irony we find hard to appreciate.

Most of us got a leg up, if not our very first start, in some public library, sometime, somewhere. Without that free and easy access to books, we probably wouldn't be writers now, and some of us might not be much of anything at all.

Maryland is full of people who need that same opportunity now more than ever before: adults learning to read for the first time, people who've always had the skill but are just beginning to discover what doors it can open and the thousands of children whose imaginations are crying for healthy nourishment.

We appeal to the state and city governments to keep the branch libraries open, to avoid reduction of Central Library hours and services and to keep the library staff and book-buying budget intact.

Give the people of Maryland the chance to read and to learn and to know; that's an investment in the future we can't afford not to make.

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