Tiny Stories of Library Love (Part 1)

This summer we invited you to tell us a story involving a library in 100 words or less. Thank you to everyone who submitted a story! Here are some of our favorites.

Megan C.:
I walked the mile from my apartment to the Middle River library. Down the alley, through the right-of-way, past the Carberry’s house, past the Church of Christ, past the rec center, then across Compass Rd and into my refuge.

I signed out stacks of books, too many to carry, and I never brought a backpack. My arms ached and my face flushed with heat as I trudged home.

I carried my treasures upstairs to my room, poured myself a glass of sweet ice tea, and spent the rest of the sticky, sweltering afternoon in air-conditioned comfort in bookworld.


C. J. M.:
The last book in the series is finally out. I must find it. I check New Books. I check the regular shelves. The catalog says it’s here. The catalog is never wrong. Where is it?

“Can I help you?” asks a kind, wise voice behind me.

With the title and author name in hand, the librarian knows just the place. She leads me to the display case near the checkout.

At long last, my turn with this incredible book!

Teresa H.:
The ladies at the front desk always greet me with a smile one day I was so down I went into the library and I was crying my heart out one of the ladies came over to me and said whatever it is you will be ok and if you need to cry here all day do so I right here if you need me but at the end of your tears I must see you smile. After about another five minutes I went to the lady and we talk and smiled the rest of my visit.

Taína R.P.:
I doubt I would exist if it weren’t for the library.

My Father grew up in the Williamsburg of pre-gentrified 1955 Brooklyn. A Puerto Rican ten year-old, raised by a single mother with a sixth-grade education, he had zero statistical expectation of escape from those streets. The hood has never been designed for emigration. He should have been a factory worker, or a drug dealer, or a junky. Instead he became a scholar. All because he was gifted an old fat tire bike, and the library he found on his first ride.

Books to Check Out this Hispanic Heritage Month

¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana! We are excited to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15). In honor of the many contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the country’s history, heritage, and culture,  Here’s a look at books to check out!

American Poison
By Eduardo Porter


Cemetery Boys
By Aiden Thomas

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
By Erika L. Sánchez

Book | eBook
Mexican Gothic
By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

eBook | eAudio
Lost Children Archive
By Valeria Luiselli

Book | eBook
Love in the Time of Cholera
By Gabriel García Márquez

Book | eBook
With the Fire on High
By Elizabeth Acevedo
Book | eBook
Swift as Desire
By Laura Esquivel

By Ernesto Quiñonez

We are Not From Here
By Jenny Torres Sanchez

The Book of Unknown Americans
By Cristina Henríquez
Book | eBook
The House on Mango Street
By Sandra Cisneros

Book | eBook
In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
By Diane Guerrero


Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina
By Raquel Cepeda

Book | eBook

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz


Go Back to School with Film Fridays at the Pratt

By Tom Warner, Best & Next Department

No more pencils no more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks
Out for summer, out till fall
We might not come back at all
– “School’s Out,” Alice Cooper

Despite Alice Cooper’s wishful thinking, school is not out forever. In fact, as the traditional beginning of the new school year approaches this fall, school is in full session on Kanopy – Enoch Pratt’s free online video streaming resource that you can access using your library card – even if school buildings themselves remain closed due to the coronavirus. With that in mind, be sure to join Pratt librarians Tom Warner and Gillian Waldo online at noon on September 11 for their Film Fridays: “Back To School” talk about two Kanopy films that explore the world of the school room – one a tender documentary and the other a depiction of youth in revolt:  

To Be and To Have (2002)
In French with English subtitles

The film won the 2003 César Award for Best Editing and the 2002 Prix Louis Delluc. Click here to watch the trailer.

The one-room “single class” schoolhouse, where one teacher instructs several grades at once, is generally regarded as a quaint thing of the past and a symbol of obsolete and ineffective teaching methods. However, To Be and To Have offers an in-depth look at a small school in rural France where one remarkable man, the soon-to-retire Georges Lopez, has been doing the job of a small teaching staff for 20 years, and has taught several generations of bright and capable children along the way. This touching, award-winning documentary depicts how one teacher can make the all the difference in the world to his students, helping them move onto the next grade or the next school and to grow up to be kind, thoughtful people. According to Philadelphia Inquirer critic Steven Rea, “To Be and to Have is a movie every teacher should see, and every parent, too.”

If… (1968)

The film won the Palme d’Or at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Direction at the 1969 BAFTA Awards. Click here to watch the trailer.

Taking its title from Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem of Victorian-era stoicism and starring a young Malcolm McDowell as “Mick the Rebel,” director Lindsey Anderson’s If... is a social satire that tells the story of an upper-crust British boarding school where the relationship between the students and the authorities becomes increasingly contentious, leading to a standoff. If… was made three years before McDowell’s international breakout role as nihilistic droog Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and the two parts share some similarities: a rebellious refusal to play by society’s rules or to blindly obey authority figures. And both resort to violent fantasies, with McDowell’s Mick Travis proclaiming, “One man can change the world with a bullet in the right place.” If madness is the only sane response to an insane world, as psychiatrist R.D. Laing once famously observed, then Mick and his mates’ rebellion against the class-conscious oppression of the British public school system is a textbook case of normality. Anderson would reunite with McDowell in 1973’s O Lucky Man!

And, since tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of 9/11, Tom and Gillian will also discuss a short film available on Kanopy that explores the impact of 9/11 as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl whose Tribeca childhood is shattered by the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

I Live At Ground Zero (2002)

Out of her classroom window, Isabella had seen bodies falling from the north tower, an unforgettable sight that instantly propelled her into a maturity beyond her years.

More Back-to-School Docs That Rock

As the nation prepares to go back to school (virtually or otherwise), it’s a good time to start thinking about our educational system and all the challenges facing students, teachers, parents and learning institutions themselves as we move forward. Before the actual school doors open, we can reflect on the way we learn by watching any of the 150 different Education documentaries that you can stream on Kanopy for free using your library card. Kanopy provides subcategories for various special interests, such as public schools, teachers, arts education, anti-bias education, and Special Ed

A few films have even looked at Baltimore schools, such as Richard Chisolm’s Cafeteria Man (2011), Amanda Lipitz’s Step (2017) and HBO’s Hard Times At Douglass High (2008); though the latter two films aren’t on Kanopy, you can still watch them on DVD using Pratt’s Sidewalk Service or Books By Mail resources.

Honoring the Life of Chadwick Boseman

By Tom Warner (Best & Next Department)

Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa in “Black Panther” (photo: Marvel Studios)

The King is dead. Long live the King! 

Actor Chadwick Boseman, whose regal performance as King T’Challa in the ground-breaking 2018 film Black Panther became an inspiring symbol of Black power, died August 28, age 43, after the “Wakanda warrior” lost his four-year battle against colon cancer.

Boseman’s fight against illness mirrored his onscreen character’s heroics, as he overcame adversity to film some of the biggest movies ever made late in his career, including two just this year. His final performances were as “Stormin’ Norman” in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (2020) and as Levee in the just-completed film adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020). Boseman’s passing creates a void that can only be filled by looking back at the films and performances he left us, and cherishing the artistry that carries on in them.

Though Black Panther will be probably be remembered as the highlight of his Hollywood reign, Boseman already had a storied and critically acclaimed career long before portraying T’Challa the Black Panther in four Marvel Cinematic Universe films (2016’s Captain America: Civil War, 2018’s Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity Wars, and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame).

Boseman had starring roles as several pioneering African-Americans, portraying such iconic figures as Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013), James Brown in Get on Up (2014), and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017). To be asked to portray such legends is an honor in itself; to master the role in such a way that both respects the subjects and inspires the audience is yet another achievement, one that will outlast Boseman’s all-too-brief life and be his true lasting legacy.

Like Kamala Harris and Toni Morrison, Boseman was a graduate of Howard University, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Directing; he went on to study acting at Oxford University, thanks to Denzel Washington, who paid his tuition. He was also a playwright and continued to write throughout his career. Of his inspirational role in Black Panther, Boseman acknowledged the film’s influential celebration of African culture, tradition and identity. “You might say that this African nation is a fantasy. But to have the opportunity to pull from real ideas, real places and real African concepts, and to put it inside of this idea of Wakanda – that’s a great opportunity to develop what a sense of identity is, especially when you’re disconnected from it.”

If you’ve already seen Black Panther and want more of T’Challa’s adventures, you can use your library card to read or download Black Panther comics (written and illustrated by various artists, including Ta’Nehisi Coate’s acclaimed 2016-2018 series for Marvel Comics) through our digital media resource, Hoopla

Though The Kill Hole (2017) is the only Boseman movie available to stream on Hoopla, Pratt has the following films available to be checked out through Sidewalk Service pickup or Books-By-Mail services:

Get on Up

Now is the time to remember the King! Wakanda forever!

The Pratt Library Virtual Programs You Should be Watching: Summer 2020

By Tiffany James, Program and Social Media Associate

Want to know what people are watching on the Pratt Facebook page? Look no further! Check out the Top 5 Most-Watched Pratt Videos of July 2020.

#1: Pratt Virtual Storytime with Mr. Matt

Happy Monday! Today, we're reading "I Know a Lot of Things” by Ann & Paul Rand. Thanks Chronicle Books!

Posted by Enoch Pratt Free Library on Monday, July 20, 2020

Get ready for Pratt Virtual Storytime Live! Groove and sing along with Pratt Librarian Matt, while he plays children’s rhymes on his guitar. Also, enjoy a read aloud of “I Know a Lot of Things” by Ann & Paul Rand, read with permission from Chronicle Books. You can join the fun Mondays and Thursdays at 11 AM.

#2: Tracing Your Family History Using Maryland Property Research

Tracing Your Family History using Maryland Property Research

Happy Thursday! Follow our weekly tips to get the most out of your genealogical research. In this episode, librarian Julie Saylor shows how to use Maryland land records to find original deeds. Almost all of this research can be done online!

Posted by Enoch Pratt Free Library on Thursday, July 16, 2020

Every building has history. In this video, Julie Saylor, from the Maryland Department, shows how to use Maryland land records to conduct your own property research. Whether you are looking for the history of a house or conducting genealogical research, you won’t want to miss this informative recording.

#3: Maryland Cooking: Historic Cookbooks of the Old Line State

Maryland Cooking: Historic Cookbooks of the Old Line State

Curious about the origins of Smith Island Cake, crab soup, and Maryland fried chicken? Savor Maryland's culinary past with the Maryland Department as we explore the small, but historically significant collection of Maryland cookbooks. We will also examine the history of some famous Maryland dishes and show how to find the best online resources for traditional Maryland recipes. Presented by Julie Saylor, Maryland Department Librarian.

Posted by Enoch Pratt Free Library on Thursday, July 9, 2020

Fun Fact: Did you know the oldest cookbook in the Pratt’s Special Collections Department dates back to the nineteenth century? Learn about some traditional Maryland recipes and the factors that classify cookbooks as historical documents.

#4: Astroblak and The Golden Record

Embark on an interstellar adventure during this third and final episode of Astroblak and The Golden Record. Along the way, you’ll learn deep listening skills as well as how to appreciate album art and inner liner notes, adding value to the vinyl experience. 

#5: Tuesdays at Two: Never Judge a Queen by the Cover

Tuesdays at Two: Never Judge a Queen By the Cover

Join us for a live-singing show with amazing local talent: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/tuesdays-at-two-never

Posted by Enoch Pratt Free Library on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Enjoy the musical talents of Evon Michelle, Baltimore’s 2020 Drag Performer of the Year, and friends as they cover some of the music industry’s beloved divas and musical artists. Be sure to join us Tuesdays at 2PM for a new live musical performance.

For more videos like this, check out our upcoming virtual programs on the events page of our website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.