Librarian of the year Carla Hayden: National award recognizes her transformation of the Pratt in two years.


CARLA D. HAYDEN richly deserves the coveted "Librarian of the Year" award from the Library Journal. Since taking over as director of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library in 1993, she has performed a miracle by turning a poorly run and demoralized system into an institution that is a "new model for libraries in the old Eastern cities," as the Journal put it.

The improvements are noticeable in the Central Library and the various neighborhood branches. Less visible is the strong management team of about 15 professionals Ms. Hayden has assembled to make sure that the changes will be lasting and not just cosmetic.

In just two years since she arrived from Chicago, she has rejuvenated the Pratt administration by bringing in people like James C. Welbourne, the assistant director who came from Pittsburgh; facilities manager John Richardson, who was hired from Security Square Mall; Imelda Roberts, the head of personnel who transferred from the Arlington (Va.) local government, and Malcolm Davis, a former State Trooper who is the new security chief. Some new top managers were promoted from within the ranks, including Pat Wallace, the head of information access who started her career at the Pratt 25 years ago as a clerk, and circulation chief Carolyn Laster.

"We are shoring up these difficult areas, which are important because the biggest resource are the staff people," says Ms. Hayden.

More changes are on the way. The Pratt will soon hire a development officer to coordinate private fund-raising and grant applications.

The Library Journal cited the Pratt's ambitious but realistic 1996-1999 plan as its reason for honoring Ms. Hayden. That plan aims at completing the transformation into a modern, multi-media information resource system.

The fulfillment of the Pratt's strategic blueprint will require a hefty infusion of additional funds from both the public and private sector.

In a city of dwindling resources and mounting problems, the Pratt under Ms. Hayden and its reinvigorated board of directors is proving money spent on improvements produces results. The library is asking for help. Baltimore and Maryland should respond to that call.

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