Editor: Your article on the Pratt Library pointed out that the Baltimore County library system does not want to absorb or be absorbed by the Pratt. I can understand this reluctance.
However, the Baltimore County library can help the Pratt substantially at very little cost by transferring ownership of its "gently used" books to the Pratt.
The county library regularly purchases multiple copies of new books for each of its branches. Within six months, it makes a new order to bestsellers. To make shelf room for the new arrivals, both hardback and paperbacks are declared surplus items. These surpluses, which originally retailed from $4.98 to $12, are sold to happy library patrons for $1 and 50 cents.
Donating these books to the Pratt would give them an extra six months circulation in inner-city branches, after which the city might be able to sell them for 50 cents and 25 cents. Since the books have already been coded, a county library book could be quickly rebanded with Pratt wrappers.
I hope the Baltimore County library administration will contact the Pratt and work out the details.
( Miriam Winder-Kelly. Baltimore.
Editor: Japan's hedging on the so-called trade agreement made to President Bush is very reminiscent of the peaceful talks that were going on in our State Department back in 1941. While the Japanese envoys were talking "peace," their military was on its way to attack Pearl Harbor.
It's quite obvious that the Japanese have not learned to be truthful in dealing with others.
We have no one to blame for this trade imbalance but ourselves.
I mean the American people. They are lackadaisical in their work habits and have completely surrendered control of government to greedy representatives and even more greedy corporate heads. The American worker is just as greedy.
I own a Japanese vehicle. Not because I am endeared to the Japanese but because I am offered a decent product for the dollar I spend. Read the Consumer Reports and look at the reliability record for the autos produced in this country.
My suggestion is this: Stop pointing fingers. Hitch up your britches, spit on your hands and let's get to work.
# John F. Thomas.
Ugly Rap is No Bach
Editor: J.D. Considine's Jan. 19 article, ''Society's fear, ignorance play large roles in rap's tarnishing image,'' calls for a rebuttal.
Mr. Considine asks -- and answers -- the wrong questions in his article. Why so many people dislike rap music has absolutely nothing to do with Afrocentrism. Nor has it anything to do with a paranoid fear that rap can ''only bring trouble.''
The real answer is simple: rap is ugly.
True, much of our world is ugly. And so one could argue that rap is a reflection of that ugliness. Indeed, such a conclusion would be easy to support.
Mr. Considine does not understand the fundamental basis of music.
Great music, beautiful music -- music worthy of our attention and understanding -- this music expresses in sound ideas beyond language. Wagner called it ''the root of the poetic idea.'' Albert Schweitzer called it a ''marriage of text and sound.'' Throughout the ages such music has helped to make this world a better place.
Entire schools, such as the Peabody here in Baltimore, are dedicated to the study and preservation of this music. Such music brings our lives into a more profound alleluia. Such music inspires, motivates, challenges, even changes us.
Rap does none of these things. Shock us -- certainly. Disgust us -- consistently. But what you see is what you get. Take away the jive, the outlandish dress and most of the volume and all you are left with is tenth rate poetry recitated in a monotone by a bunch of untrained, uninspired musical hacks.
The problems in our society are many. Let us choose our art to help us through our life and inspire us to look for and work for just solutions for all. The music of Bach does just that.
' T. Herbert Dimmock. Baltimore.
The writer is music director of Handel Choir of Baltimore.
Editor: Jim Bock's Jan. 5 article concerning the Enoch Pratt Free Library gives an accurate summation of the institution's financial weaknesses yet fails to account for the reasons why many of us continue to be loyal patrons.
This article suggests that the ideal library system is one that emulates Baltimore County.
It is true that a fan of Danielle Steel will find numerous copies of her latest book on the shelves of Charles Robinson's libraries, but is this the modern definition of a public library: an institution of best-sellers?
I am not convinced of the merit of such an argument.
P. Bacon. Baltimore.
Tougher Emissions Standards
Editor: If Maryland along with the rest of the country could solve all environmental problems with no extreme change in lifestyle, our wetlands, forests and atmosphere would not be suffering under the existing conditions of today.