Waverly branch cuts hours

September 02, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

Leon Henry may have to start shelling out money for his favorite magazines when the Waverly branch of the Enoch Pratt Library cuts its hours next week.

Mr. Henry, 28, said he visits the branch regularly to read news and sports magazines after leaving his job at Union Memorial Hospital. He also uses the library's computer to type his resumes.

"It's really going to affect me a lot," he said, while sitting across from the stacks of magazines, hoarding the latest editions of Newsweek, Time and Sports Illustrated. Asked how he will adjust to the branch closing three hours early three days a week, he said, "I will have to come at lunch, or leave work early."

The library branch has been open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. five days a week, closing at 5 p.m. only on Saturdays. But starting Tuesday, it will close three hours earlier on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays -- days when it is not busy enough to justify the later hours, Pratt officials said. It will be open until 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Library officials say the change is part of a reorganization of the branch system designed to distribute services equally throughout the city and to reflect the needs of each community.

Eventually, officials said, branches now operating from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. will get extended hours as the system shifts resources and librarians to areas where the need is greatest.

Waverly is the first branch to lose hours because of the reorganization.

At 5:30 on a recent afternoon, a time when the Waverly branch will be closed most days, 10 adults and 5 children read books, magazines and newspapers or browsed through the aisles and the computer room in the Waverly branch.

Several patrons were dismayed by the changes, including a man who watched his three young children scramble for books to complete their summer reading and Ruben Melendex, a 69-year-old Charles Village resident, who said, "People need to read."

Some patrons said they were upset that the shorter hours are coming as the academic year is about to begin for Baltimore public school students.

James C. Welbourne, the Pratt Library's assistant director, said most students use the branch after school and usually are gone by evening.

He predicted that most of the city's library users will applaud the changes.

"This is to help some neighborhoods that had been without many services to realize some increase in those services," Mr. Welbourne said. "What you're seeing now is the beginning of a reorganization plan. It's the reorganization of the whole system -- branch and district service.

He said some neighborhood branches that now are open only a few hours daily might have extended hours once changes are made.

Robert D. Rieffel, the Pratt Library's coordinator of citywide services, said some changes in branch schedules will be announced soon.He said branches expected to gain hours in the next round of changes are Forest Park, Edmondson, Walbrook and Morrell Park.

Four locations that will not change hours are the Pennsylvania Avenue, Hamilton, Herring Run and Light Street branches, which are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Library officials decided to decrease the hours at Waverly after studying usage patterns. They discovered that few people used the branch after 5 p.m. most days, Mr. Welbourne said.

Eugene Simms, 41, sat under the sculptured wooden tree in the Waverly branch's brightly lighted children's section, watching as his children, ages 4, 7 and 8, roamed the shelves.

He said he didn't favor the decision to close the branch earlier but understood the reasoning.

"That's going to hurt a lot of kids going to school," said Mr. Simms.

"They [library administrators] have been here on a daily basis, so they should know what the traffic patterns are. I bring my kids here, but a lot of people don't."

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