Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The central branch of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library downtown will be closed to the public for nine days this month as crews renovate the first floor of the 85-year-old building.

The library will shut down from Feb. 11-19, according to an announcement. Library system officials had debated either scheduling the renovations out over four weeks, while keeping the first floor open with “significant service disruptions for the whole month” for various departments, or shutting it all down for a shorter time frame while crews work on the entire floor, Enoch Pratt spokeswoman Meghan McCorkell said.

They opted for the latter, she said, because “it’s just going to be a lot less confusing for customers, and it’s going to be a one-week disruption versus a month-long disruption.”

The library began a $115 million restoration of its central branch in July 2016. When it’s done, the building will have more public space, a teen and young adult wing, an expanded children’s department, an ornately restored central hall, more public computers and updated restrooms, among other upgrades.

Some good news: Renovations are nearly finished on the second and third floors, McCorkell said. When the library reopens on Feb. 20, patrons will get to see the new digs. (The majority of the first floor will still be closed; most services will be located on the second and third floors.)

“It’s really exciting for us to have people come in and see…why all of this construction has been going on for so long,” McCorkell said.

The library will continue offering reference services by telephone, email and online chat from Feb. 12-19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A scheduled Feb. 14 reading and book signing with writer Tayari Jones will go on as planned.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...