Jacques Thompson, 12, was born a year after his mother, Anne Marie Lalmansingh, became manager of the Waverly Library branch. The Roland Park Elementary/Middle School seventh grader loves to read and is a regular at the Waverly branch. He also likes to visit other branches around the city with his mother from time to time, to see what they're like.
"He's a library baby," Lalmansingh said proudly.
Now, the Hamilton family is losing the library branch nearest to their hearts. The Waverly branch at 401E. 33rd St. is closing Saturday, Aug. 24 for at least 18 months for major renovations.
"Can you describe me as crying?" said Lalmansingh, who has been there long enough to see the toddlers and teenagers of 2002 grow up.
"They're in college now. Some have children now," she said.
Waverly branch patrons, many of whom come from Guilford, Oakenshawe, Abell and Charles Village, are being advised to use other branches in the area, including Northwood, Roland Park, Hampden and Govans — although the Govans branch, too, is closed for renovations and is not expected to reopen until October, Lalmansingh said.
The branch's collection of close to 45,000 books, magazines and periodicals are expected to be sent be sent to book sales, other branches and a warehouse, said children's librarian Rose Anne Ullrich.
"We're boxing up books now," said Ullrich, who is happy the 42-year-old branch is being renovated, but sad that the long closing period will be disruptive to the community.
"For us, it's more bittersweet," she said.
Lalmansingh and her staff will be re-assigned during the renovations, and she will be helping out at the Northwood branch, she said. Ullrich, who has worked at the Waverly branch since 2006, said she expects to float among several different branches in the city.
In the recent weeks, staff members, parents and children have been saying their goodbyes at parties for participants in the summer reading program and the Mother Goose story-telling program for toddlers.
Lalmansingh said she would like to return to Waverly, but doesn't know whether she or other employees will be back.
"I would hope so," she said.
Taking a 'hit'
On Saturday morning, the popular library, one of the most used in the city, quickly filled with patrons, many of whom had no idea the branch was closing for construction.
Louis Whitcomb's first thought was to use the Govans branch, on Bellona Avenue at York Road. Then, the Guilford resident remembered, "It's closed for awhile."
Having the Waverly branch close, even temporarily, makes the college professor sad.
"I think it's a hit for the community," said Whitcomb, 51, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University. "It gets used by so many people."
"I didn't know about it (closing) until just last week," said Shannon Simpson, 36, of Ednor Gardens, a Hopkins librarian, who stopped in with her 2-year-old daughter, Maddie, to find out where the closest branches are.
"Now, it's going to be frustrating," Simpson said, as Maddie picked a children's picture book off a shelf. Simpson said she would probably go downtown to the Central Library.