Sun was wrong on cost of new branches for Pratt library

October 28, 1997

First, let me thank The Sun for printing the dates and locations of the public forums to discuss the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Facilities and Services Initiative.

I reiterate your invitation to any and all with an interest in the library and its long-range plans to come, listen, and be heard.

Unfortunately, your Oct. 25 editorial (''A chance to be heard'') misstated important facts that influence the public's understanding and potential support for an initiative that will ensure that the Pratt Library remains a source of information and inspiration for Baltimoreans in the coming quarter-century.

You drastically overstated the cost of new construction, by more than 450 percent. Regional branches are expected to cost in the range of $8 million to $9 million each, not $45 million (which is the uppermost estimated cost of the entire renovation and expansion plan).

Your editorial failed to mention the mayor's support for the library and its long-range plans; support he has frequently and publicly made clear.

You erroneously accused the mayor of trying ''to talk the Pratt into closing a third of its branches,'' when he did no such thing. [Editor's note: The mayor suggested the branch closings in an interview last year with The Sun.]

And you misstated the truth about the public's involvement in the closure of two small branches. Testimony by St. Paul Street advocates made it clear they had frequent discussions with library staff plus access to consultants' reports that presented factors that influenced the branch closure.

But what lies ahead is more than anther chance to be heard. What these forums and future outreach activities will provide is a chance to take action to support better, stronger library services. There is nothing certain about the prospect of improvements to our library system, a system that hasn't seen any new construction in 25 years.

Citizens of Baltimore who care about the future of the library must be ready to step forward to voice their support and urge the support of their neighbors.

In the coming months, the library will reach out to suggest tangible ways citizens can do so.

Attendance at one of the upcoming forums is just the beginning.

Virginia K. Adams

Baltimore

The writer is chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Pub Date: 10/28/97

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