Pratt cuts spending to save branch Waverly unit to close 2 days to maintain Charles Village library

September 01, 1997|By Jean Thompson and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Jean Thompson and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Ordered by a judge to keep its Charles Village library branch open, the Enoch Pratt Free Library has announced a two-day closing of the nearby Waverly branch and other cuts to cover staffing and costs of compliance.

Patrons at Waverly will find the doors locked Thursday and Sept. 8 as a side effect of the continuing dispute over the fate of the branch in the neighborhood next door.

In addition, the library will freeze hiring and curtail book ordering throughout the system at least until a court case challenging the closing of the St. Paul Street branch can be resolved, library spokeswoman Averil Kadis said.

"We had counted on realizing some savings by closing the branch, and obviously now there won't be savings so we have to absorb that cost elsewhere in the system," Kadis said.

Friends of the St. Paul Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library won a temporary injunction Thursday to keep the St. Paul Street branch open until at least Sept. 12. Baltimore Circuit Judge John

Carroll Byrnes is expected to make a decision Sept. 11.

Keeping the branch open for the next two weeks will cost the library system an estimated $7,650, said Gordon Krabbe,the library's director of administrative services.

In addition, it will require a reassignment of staff to cover shortages at branches across the city. The St. Paul Street staff was to have been moved, he said.

Kadis said the reason cuts were directed at Waverly are administrative. "It's the logical one" because the library manages its branches in regional groups, and hopes to resolve the cost and staffing problem within the St. Paul Street branch's immediate district, she said.

Also on hold are the library's plans to improve book services in three city public schools served by the St. Paul Street branch. Had the branch closed, its children's book collection was to be sent to Margaret Brent Elementary School.

New weekly or biweekly bookmobile services and visits from librarians had been planned for Brent and for Dallas F. Nicholas and Mildred Monroe elementaries.

"All of that is on hold indefinitely," Kadis said.

Third District Councilman Martin O'Malley bemoaned the necessity to close for two days the branch in Waverly -- an area he represents -- and urged Charles Village residents to focus on the entire library system instead of only their branch.

"The whole system could gain if we all could keep our eyes on the big picture," O'Malley said. "I think people in Charles Village could have a Baltimore City library system that could serve their needs much better, even without the tiny, little, antiquated St. Paul's branch."

The century-old Charles Village branch, in the 2500 block of St. Paul, was to close Saturday.

Library Director Carla D. Hayden announced in August that the Charles Village and Morrell Park branches in the city would close in a $1 million cost-cutting measure. Her announcement drew protests from the Charles Village neighborhood.

To win a permanent injunction, the Charles Village neighbors must show that removing the library from the neighborhood would cause "irreparable harm."

Hayden said Charles Village residents can use the nearby Waverly branch, a larger, newer library at 400 E. 33rd St. But Charles Village residents say that library is too far away. Hayden said the judge is forcing the Pratt to spend money it does not have.

Morrell Park's library closed on schedule Saturday.

Pub Date: 9/01/97

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