Pratt thinks big Mega-branches: East Baltimoreans discuss plans for a huge regional library.

August 05, 1998

AFTER YEARS of studies, the Enoch Pratt Free Library is ready to unveil its plans for giant regional branches.

They will be about the size of a modern supermarket, with on-site parking, coffee bar, gift shop, copy center and Internet access. If a planning document is to be believed, the libraries will have "public service hours until midnight, and year-round weekend service."

Is this too good to be true? How would the planned super libraries affect existing branches?

East Baltimoreans discussed the Pratt's plans at a meeting last week designed to gather input on the library's first regional mega-branch. Although its exact location is yet to be determined, city planners have identified half a dozen possible sites on the Eastern Avenue corridor.

Regional branches are scheduled to be constructed elsewhere in the city, too. These new structures, the first built for the Pratt since 1971, would supplement or replace older and smaller branches.

Budget problems in recent years have forced the Pratt to close some branches and curtail operations in others. Those measures have been highly controversial.

To Highlandtown, though, which is struggling to revitalize a troubled retail district, the prospect of a new 30,000- to-45,000-square-foot anchor along Eastern Avenue is exciting. It promises to turn the new regional library center into a focal point of community pride and activity.

Pub date: 8/05/98

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