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Pratt evolves to meet 21st-century needs

The library now offers computers, free Wi-Fi and help in mastering digital media.

The articles and letters about the restoration and renovation of the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Central Library have helped underscore how important the Pratt is to the greater Baltimore community ("Baltimore's Enoch Pratt's central library to get first major renovation," July 5).

As chair of the Pratt's Board of Directors and Trustees, I am excited by the public's enthusiasm for and support of the approaching restoration of this historic and beloved cathedral of learning. The board has full confidence in the architectural team led by Beyer Blinder Belle, a venerable firm with experience in restoring significant, historic sites that include New York City's Grand Central Terminal, Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption and the Maryland State House Old House of Delegates Chamber. Talented architects of Ayers/Saint/Gross are also an integral part of this long-awaited project.

The coming renovation is important to all Maryland as Pratt's Central Library serves as the State Library Resource Center. Put simply, it is the state library. In that capacity, Pratt's central library operates an inter-library loan system and makes copies of books and documents available to library patrons from Garrett to Worcester counties. This is a responsibility established by statute and funded by the state that the library is proud to fulfill.

Drive by the Central Library on Cathedral any morning as patrons wait for the doors to open, and the importance of Pratt Central becomes a living canvas. Pratt Central has been a cornerstone of Baltimore's city history for generations of families. Library visitors frequently recall fond memories of visiting the fishpond, browsing for books, meeting favorite authors and seeking help with research papers. Patrons have benefited from programs offering literacy enhancement to those that are just plain fun. We are sure that individuals and families will continue to form lasting memories at Central and confident this renovation will promote that goal.

As with libraries everywhere, Pratt Central Library's role, along with the branches, has evolved. In addition to the important, traditional role as book depository, Central and the Pratt branches are increasingly and visited by for access to computers and free Wi-Fi, for help with mastering the digital media and for free public meeting sites.

Central Library's restoration and renovation will encourage today's patrons — and those to come — to enjoy the advantages of a 21st century library in the magnificence of this beautiful and historic building.

Patricia Lasher

The writer is chair of the Enoch Pratt Free Library Board of Directors and Trustees.

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