Closing libraries undermines fabric of city...


March 15, 2001

Closing libraries undermines fabric of city neighborhoods

It is a disgrace that our "Greatest City in America" can make enormous investments in something as vacuous as professional sports, then rather casually announce its divestment in one of our longest-standing and most effective social institutions, the Enoch Pratt Free Library ("Residents protest loss of services," March 11).

Every day, public libraries bring together Baltimore's diverse people -- crossing categories of race, class, gender, religion, age and education level.

Libraries also provide important access to knowledge, not only through books, but also through human resources and technology. Our libraries, all 27 branches, serve as important community bulletin boards and provide training in everything from tax-filing to adult literacy.

Public libraries are also community centers that provide, for example, informal after-school learning environments for hundreds of city youth who otherwise would have nowhere to bide their time during these most troublesome hours.

If the suburban sprawl model of regional libraries is applied to the Pratt, access for its most frequent and faithful patrons will be effectively closed. The library will no longer be a stopping place on the way home from school or for impromptu research on a weekend morning.

We think it terribly ironic that Baltimore officials are marketing our city as a collection of homey neighborhoods even as their policies systematically dismantle institutions critical to community-building.

Joby Taylor

Beth Taylor


Libraries can be places to gather and learn

The Sun's article about the closing of the Bibelot stores suggested that many people are upset as they won't have anywhere to go for "intellectual stimulation" ("Plans to shelve Bibelot surprise patrons," March 12).

Have these people ever heard of the public library? It is quiet, books are readily available at no cost, and most branches even have storytimes for the kids.

I realize the city is thinking of closing several libraries. Perhaps if more people frequented them, that would not happen.

In a "city that reads," I think the public is overlooking solutions right before them.

Karen Sider

Severna Park

Access to books helps kids read and succeed

As the African proverb says, "It takes a village to raise a child." Likewise, it takes more than schools to educate one.

And one of the most significant factors determining children's success in school is whether they are read to regularly during those early years.

It is devastating, therefore, to read of Baltimore's short-sightedness in deciding to close several branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The money saved will only need to be spent in remediation later.

In a city in which many citizens do not have cars, and one without a comprehensive transportation system, large, distant libraries are impractical for those who need them most. While some branches are currently underutilized, we should be finding ways to encourage families to patronize neighborhood libraries and get their children involved with books, instead of making it more difficult to do so.

Barbara Payne Shelton


The writer chairs the early childhood leadership department of Villa Julie College.

Stennett's jurors should be next victims

Instead of shrinking into anonymity, several of the jurors in the Eric Stennett trial have chosen to come forward with their justification of acquittal in Officer Kevon Gavin's death. A big mistake ("Jury distrust, bitter verdict," March 11).

Even Mr. Stennett's lawyer admitted that his client was "guilty of something." But that didn't seem to faze these 12 brilliant triers of fact.

Justice will be served if Mr. Stennett's next offense directly impacts one of the families of these clueless citizens.

Morton D. Marcus


All we can do about violence is teach our children well

I've read many articles and letters to the editor and listened to numerous news reports and personal opinions about the shooting in California. It appears that people just don't get it.

Lawmakers can rack their brains to attempt to resolve these issues. But they'll never find a resolution that will eliminate violence of some sort.

Even if firearms were banned, violence of some sort would periodically find its way to the surface.

All we can do is to continue to educate our children and be positive role models in their lives.

Jonathan R. Burrs


Many seem to find cruelty amusing

"Who finds entertainment in cruelty and humiliation?" asked the writer of "Eminem garners award as Graziano seeks treatment" (letters, March 1).

Unfortunately, the answer is easy: lots of people only feel good about themselves when they see others hurt or exalted when they see degradation.

Those who watch Sally Jessy Raphael and Jerry Springer, for instance. And "Temptation Island" drew fans wanting to see someone cry when humiliated as a mate told of his or her infidelity.

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