At Pratt: more users, lower circulation

November 14, 1993|By Tim Warren

A funny thing has been happening at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in recent years. Its budget has been cut, and the number of volumes checked out has declined, but more people are using the system than ever before.

According to Pratt spokeswoman Averil Kadis, the library system had 929,410 library visits in 1988. In 1992, the number rose to nearly 1.5 million.

That's why she believes that "Baltimore would like to be 'The City That Reads.' I think the average citizen thinks that education and reading are important. That's demonstrated whenever we've been faced with closing a branch. There's such hue and cry because they feel our community needs a good library."

Still, circulation of books has dropped in the Pratt system. According to the library's statistics, circulation was 2.1 million in 1984 but only 1.6 million in 1992.

"That's because of the enormous outflow of many of our readers into suburban areas," Ms. Kadis says. "People are using the suburban systems more, and that's not just in Baltimore but everywhere."

As for the drop in book circulation at the library when attendance is rising, she says many patrons have used the Pratt to do homework or research instead of checking out books.

Indeed, in Baltimore County, books in circulation for the period June 1, 1992, through May 30, 1993, were 12,128,446, "the third-highest in the United States," says Jean-Barry Molz, deputy director of the county library system.

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