Enoch Pratt Central Library at 400 Cathedral Street.

Starting next month, the Enoch Pratt Free Library will reduce its hours and suspend in-person programs and passport services to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“As we prepare to begin 2022, the priority of the Pratt Library remains the health and safety of our customers and staff,” Library president and CEO Heidi Daniel said in an open letter released today. “With the current surge in COVID-19 cases, we’ll be making a few changes in January. Starting January 3, we will be reducing library hours across the system.”

According to Daniel, all locations will be open Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed Sundays and Mondays. Presently, certain branches are open until 8 p.m.

“This reduction in hours allows us to stagger staff schedules to promote social distancing, as well as accommodate staff who need to isolate and test due to COVID-19 exposure.”

In addition, she said, “we will be moving all of our programming in January to virtual platforms rather than in-person. This is to help avoid crowds gathering in our buildings. Passport services will be temporarily suspended. The Pratt will maintain all COVID-19 protocols, including health and temperature checks with all customers and staff as well as a mask mandate in our buildings.”

Daniel noted that the Library system now lends hot spots and tablets to customers who need in-home internet access and that Drive-in Wi-fi is available outside nine Pratt locations. The Pratt eLibrary is always open.

She said the library hopes to return to its previous business hours starting in February, “depending on health conditions.”

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.