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Baltimore Library Stays Open Amid Unrest

Eyes around the world were recently focused on the city of Baltimore, where the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody sparked protests. Across the street from the CVS drugstore that was burned down is the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch Library. Apart from a few hours at the height of the riots, the library stayed open, a decision that has received a lot of attention and praise. When the rioting first started, branch manager Melanie Townsend Diggs locked the doors and kept the patrons inside. Later, everyone was able to leave through the back door.  That night, she told library administrators, “I really feel at a time like this, the community needs us, and I want to try to open.” The library opened next morning and remained open. Later, Ms. Townsend Diggs reflected on the experience. “I’m proud that we were able to carry on,” she said. “The gratitude of the public has sustained the staff. It’s like they knew they can count on us. I’ve never been prouder to be a librarian.”