By the Numbers: Literary Baltimore

Stats about the libraries and literary greats of the Charm City

January 2, 2024

Photo of Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass Photo: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

ALA’s 2024 LibLearnX conference will be held January 19–22 in Baltimore.

Year that Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) in Baltimore was founded. Six years after ALA’s founding, EPFL received its initial funding from local businessman and philanthropist Enoch Pratt. The system now has 22 locations across the city.

Year that Atomic Books—an independent bookstore specializing in books, zines, and comics “for mutated minds”—opened in Baltimore. The shop, located in the city’s Hampden neighborhood, is also where famed filmmaker, actor, and author John Waters picks up his fan mail.

Number of years that Baltimore has hosted the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards. The 2023 celebration commemorating the death of the famous poet—who resided in the city for several years and died there in 1849—included tours of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, a coffin-building display, and the Black Cat Ball, a Gothic-themed dance party.

Year that Frederick Douglass published his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. The famous abolitionist lived in Baltimore as a child before escaping north to freedom in 1838. Visitors to the city can tour several historic sites tied to Douglass’s life.

Number of in-person visits made to EPFL from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

Number of volumes held at Johns Hopkins University’s George Peabody Library (GPL), the largest library collection in Baltimore. GPL’s holdings include a first-edition copy of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and a 1617 edition of Don Quixote. The ornate, Beaux-Arts building has been used as a filming location for TV shows and movies, including the film Sleepless in Seattle.

Number of first-person essays available for reading through the American Prison Writing Archive (APWA), a digital collection managed by Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) Sheridan Libraries in Baltimore. APWA aims to combat misrepresentation of the conditions and experiences of people incarcerated in US prisons and jails, and essay writers represent more than 400 facilities in 47 states.

Park Avenue address of author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s former Baltimore home. Located in the Bolton Hill neighborhood and currently a private residence, the building was where Fitzgerald and his family stayed between 1933 and 1935. During this time, he finished his final novel, Tender Is the Night.


A catalog from the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play

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