The Promise of Pennsylvania: The Renewal of a Neighborhood Branch

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By Anjanette Wiggins

When the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch first opened to the public on January 15, 1953, the former director of Pratt Library, Joseph Wheeler, commented that "It's the finest public library (branch) in the country. It has the rest of them backed off the boards."

After spending many weeks closed for renovations, we are celebrating our Grand Re-opening on Wednesday, November 14 at 10:30am, and all are welcome.

The new exterior decal surrounding the front entrance.

From the Outside In
The current revitalization of the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch invites customers to a host of improvements and new services to enhance their library experience.
The first change customers notice about the branch is the new design on the building. It is a vibrant decal of a young girl reading. It displays an image of curiosity and learning.

The upper floor after the makeover.

Several aesthetic changes welcome customers inside. The walls have been painted, some with bright accent colors, and new carpeting was installed throughout the building. Eye-pleasing signs replaced the old green ones added in the 1980's. Additionally, the branch's meeting room received technology upgrades, and opened more space for events and meetings.

There is also new furniture throughout the building, both for public and staff use.

A New Artistic Vision
As part of a community with a rich artistic history, it is only natural that part of the branch's renewal involve art. A large mural covers the Lobby wall behind the Circulation desk. The images are based on the book Dizzy by Sean Qualls and pay homage to Pennsylvania Avenue's jazz heritage.

Wall mural based on Dizzy by Sean Qualls.

Beautiful illustrations from nine picture books adorn the walls of the Children's area. Eye-catching colors and energetic scenes make them a must-see for visitors.

Illustration from the book Ella Fitzgerald by Andrea D. Pinkney

Jack Young, the Library's graphic designer who coordinated the new art for the branch, states that, "The goal was to select images that were culturally relevant, historical, empowering, and related to the community in some fashion. They were hung in a way that lead to a color harmony between the palettes. Ultimately, adding the spotlights to shine on the pictures enhances them and brightens the children's area."

Children Are the Future
A new early literacy center is among many changes to the Children's area. It features a play area, where children age three and younger can learn basic motor and thinking skills, and has a collection of early literacy reading materials on topics from the alphabet to shapes.

The Children's area

Technology, More for Free
Technology plays a significant role in the revitalization of the branch. A large digital display shows upcoming events as customers enter the library. The Job and Career Center features five new computers dedicated for employment searching activities.

The new Job and Career Center

The newest addition to the branch is the Pratt eLibrary Station. This touchscreen station, which is part of an eBooks grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, lets library customers view Pratt's growing collection of downloadable eBooks and audiobooks.

Pratt eLibrary Station for viewing the catalog of ebooksPratt is also lending new Sony eReaders to customers. Customers will be able to borrow and download eBooks of their choice directly to the device. The Sony devices are part of the Weinberg grant designed to augment Pratt's eBook presence.

The community's response to these improvements has been immediate and positive, and this renewal project provides the library with the opportunity to continue to be a beacon within the Penn-North neighborhood.

Please join us for our Grand Re-opening Wednesday, November 14 at 10:30am at the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch, 1531 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217. All are welcome.

This sounds and looks great, I can't wait to see it!
Posted by: Teresa( Visit ) at 11/13/2012 11:12 a.m.

It looks nice. I'd like to come in and see.
Posted by: Evelyn N. Alfred( Visit ) at 11/14/2012 9:11 a.m.

You should stop by. I think you would really be amazed.
Posted by: Anjanette at 11/14/2012 1:34 p.m.

This is so wonderful - PNN looks terrific! Will definitely have to stop by and see my old haunts next time I'm in town. Congratulations all!
Posted by: Reginald Harris( Visit ) at 11/19/2012 12:14 p.m.

The library look outstanding-I am so excited the Library has reopened again. It felt like a long time. It makes a big different when there is a library close to home!
Posted by: Linda Bryant at 11/27/2012 5:47 p.m.

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