About The Library


Annual Report 2012
Why Pratt Library Matters
A Report to the Community

We are sometimes asked if Pratt Library matters in this modern era where the Internet is the “go to” place for information. Our unequivocal answer is: Yes!

Pratt matters because librarians, the original search engines, are still today’s trusted experts. They ensure that patrons know where to go for accurate and reliable information.

Far from becoming obsolete, Pratt continues to be the great equalizer, making resources accessible to people of all socioeconomic circumstances. An essential source for information, Pratt complements its massive book collection with the latest technologies. With eReaders on loan throughout the Pratt Library system, and a growing eBook collection accessible from the library and from the comfort of your own home, our resources are available 24/7.

Pratt matters because our programs support early literacy, school readiness, and academic achievement, which are all foundations for success in life.

As a center for civic discourse, Pratt brings disparate individuals together to learn about and discuss—thoughtfully and respectfully—the important issues of our time.

Pratt’s branches are community anchors that bring neighbors together and provide beneficial resources, from bus route schedules to healthy food to job-search strategies.

Pratt matters. Fortunately, our wonderful supporters recognize its value. Our private donors bolster the essential funding we receive from the City and the State, to provide signature programs that make Pratt a beloved civic institution. A heartfelt thank you to all whose generosity and foresight make our programs possible.

Carla Hayden signatureVernon A. Reid signature
Carla D. Hayden, Chief Executive Officer        Vernon A. Reid, Chair, Board of Trustees & Directors


Because we are
building tomorrow’s leaders

105,000 children and their parents, and teens participated in Pratt programs—13,200+ registered for Pratt’s special summer reading program and 153,800+ books were read!boy reading a book in the Children's Department at the Pratt Library

Early literacy is a predictor of success in school and in life, and Pratt helps create a vibrant environment to help build tomorrow’s leaders. Promoting literacy and fostering a lifelong love of learning, from birth through high school and beyond, are among Pratt’s highest priorities.

Young children participate in activities that help ensure school readiness. Students build academic skills through after-school programs, homework assistance, and summer learning. Teens develop leadership skills and earn ?service learning credits for high school graduation. Pratt is an important component of the “village” it takes to raise a child.

Pratt’s family-centered programs help build literacy. Mother Goose Baby Steps—and Buena Casa, Buena Brasa, its Spanish version—encourage language development in our youngest children and often strengthen bilingual fluency in their parents. Young children look forward to storytimes, arts and crafts, and other activities that prepare them for school success.

Once in school, students strengthen academic skills through Pratt programs and services. Young readers relax and build skills by reading to friendly, attentive dogs in our Paws to Read program. The popular Summer Reading Program provides hours of enjoyable reading while reducing the “summer slide” that erodes academic progress.

Among many programs for young adults, teens become leaders and earn high school service learning credits through the Community Youth Corps. Also at Pratt, teens learn Spanish and write Japanese haiku, explore chemistry and engineering, enjoy poetry slams, compose songs, dabble in anime and manga, and play Wii games.

Strong families nurture childrens’ accomplishments, and the array of family-friendly resources includes books and movies that every member can enjoy. Pratt Library provides free access to information for all, from the most to the least advantaged, serving as “the great equalizer” and providing opportunities for future leaders to thrive.

“Pratt librarians saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. They took my dream and made it their dream. They had a tremendous impact on my life.”
Congressman Elijah Cummings, 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives


Because we are
a center for public discourse

7,300 people attended free public author programs through the Writers LIVE! series.Sonia Sotomayor speaking at the Pratt Library

Today’s Pratt is more than books, and it is also more than technology. The Central Library and its 21 branches are “village squares,” where people of all races, ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic circumstances gather to learn, celebrate, and communicate. Our rich and varied programming encourages conversations about important social issues, discussions that are essential to responsible citizenship and a healthy democracy. In an atmosphere of respect for differing views, patrons share opinions without rancor and disagree without being disagreeable. This “go-to” place, one of Baltimore’s top destinations, offers a feast of priceless learning and enrichment options—all for free.

Pratt, the “people’s university,” offers endless opportunities for personal, academic, and cultural enrichment.

The Library hosts award-winning authors, who share their thoughtful, wide-ranging perspectives. Speakers for Writers LIVE! have included such literary and cultural luminaries as Sonia Sotomayor, Chris Matthews, Tavis Smiley, Pat Conroy, Jeffrey Toobin, Madeleine Albright, and Frank Deford.

Often, Pratt events are presented in partnerships with such local organizations as the Open Society Institute for its "Talking About Race" series and Baltimore Greenworks for the "Sustainable Speaker" series.

In addition, Pratt offers other opportunities for personal enrichment.Amateur genealogists trace their family roots. Families view weekend movies and discuss books. Patrons learn to knit and play chess, chart biking trails, and listen to live chamber music played by Peabody Institute musicians. There is something for everyone at Pratt.

Pratt Library Podcasts - click to browse or listen

Pratt readings and talks create a community conversation, and the kind of dialogue that happens here just doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
Judy Cooper, Coordinator of Programs and Publications


Because we are
Providing the Latest technology

1.3 million sessions were logged on more than 830 public-access computers, helping job seekers, students, and customers without home Internet access. boy with an eReader at the Pratt Library

Technological access and skills are necessary for success in today’s knowledge economy, and Pratt is providing both for our patrons. We have evolved into a virtual as well as a physical library, one that is becoming increasingly digital while we also expand the print book collection. Through our new eLibrary, eBooks and eReaders are now accessible throughout the Pratt Library system. Information is available online around the clock on Pratt’s website—by computer, laptop, tablet, and smart-phone. As a result, Pratt attracts record numbers of people to its resources, in person and online.

Pratt has always embraced the notion of delivering information in ever-changing formats. With an Internet connection, patrons have 24/7 access to Pratt’s website resources. They browse our extensive databases, digitized collections, and How-to Guides. With the “Pratt App,” patrons reserve and renew books, view the events calendar, listen to podcasts of author presentations, and email questions to librarians. Through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest, and YouTube, thousands follow and interact with Pratt.

A recent initiative launched Pratt’s eLibrary, which makes eBooks and eReference materials available to anyone with an eReader, an Internet connection, and a library card. Patrons without an eReader can check one out from any Library location, providing unprecedented access to the public. A generous grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is building the stock of eReaders and eBooks.

Meanwhile, people are flocking to the Library in person, attracted, in part, by free Wi-Fi and the (more than 830) public-use computers that are available throughout the Pratt system. They apply for jobs, find help with homework and research papers, and stay connected to others. Far from seeing technology as a threat, Pratt welcomes the possibilities it creates.

Teens adore eReaders. Curiosity about new technology, like eReaders, is a strong motivator.”
Deborah Taylor, Coordinator of School and Student Services


Because we are
community anchors

Over 6100 programs were offered, for free! children in school uniforms at the Pratt Library

Pratt’s Central and branch libraries are community anchors, where residents meet their neighbors, make new friends, obtain information about local resources, and discuss local issues. Young children engage in storytimes and fun learning. Students appreciate the after-school haven, where they find programs and help with homework. Adults attend clinics and classes on topics from cooking to medicine, gardening to sports. Branch libraries in “food deserts” offer nutritious options through Virtual Supermarkets for online grocery shopping and delivery. In an era where both factual and unreliable information floods the Internet, librarians remain trusted guides to credible sources.

Librarians, “the original search engines,” tap into Pratt’s databases to provide quick answers to reference questions—from identifying the sculptor of a city monument to pinpointing the cause of the Great Fire of 1904. They help customers navigate the complex world of the Internet and guide patrons to credible online information. Along the way, librarians become familiar, valued members of their respective library communities.

Pratt helps people succeed in the workplace, with computer training and with information on résumé writing, interviewing, networking, and other job-search strategies. Patrons use our public-access computers for fast Internet access, email, research, and online applications.

Adults attend health seminars and flu clinics and learn about family genealogy, household finances, college savings plans, and home buying and renovation. They shore up their financial literacy and find tax assistance. Businesses grow and researchers find answers through our databases and workshops. Especially when times are tough, we help thousands of people each year find opportunities.

Because branch libraries are essential to healthy neighborhoods, Pratt devotes substantial resources to upgrading our facilities. This year, a renovated Pennsylvania Avenue Branch welcomed patrons with an updated façade, new circulation/lobby area, early childhood learning center, expanded job center, and refreshed teen area. Other branches have either undergone renovation or are scheduled for future makeovers.

We have information on starting a business, repairing a car, remodeling a home, or fixing a computer. Helping people with their careers, though, is one of the most rewarding things we do.”
John Damond, Business, Science & Technology Department, Pratt Library



More from our Annual Reports

We gratefully acknowledge our donors for their generous Annual Fund support for Pratt Library programs and services.

back to TOP