Expanded McCormick Riverfront Library to feature book cafe

Stefan Hawkins, owner of Good Brotha’s Book Café. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Good Brotha’s Book Café will open this fall as part of the McCormick Riverfront Library expansion, the first coffee shop in Dauphin County Library System’s eight locations.

Owner Stefan Hawkins said his current shop in midtown Harrisburg would close Sept. 10 because the building’s owner is selling the property.

“We’re looking at opening in McCormick on Oct. 17, and I’m excited to bring Good Brotha’s to everyone visiting the library,’’ Hawkins said in a release. “I opened my cafe with a mission of expanding access to titles in Black and African American literature, so this partnership with the library is perfect.’’

Library System Executive Director Karen Cullings said the arrangement is an example of how the library is partnering with businesses and organizations.

Cullings also announced Friday the chance for donors to the $3.5 million expansion project to have their gift showcased in a custom panel as part of an appreciation wall in McCormick’s new welcome center.

“We want to recognize everyone who helped make this project possible, and the donor recognition wall in the new T. Morris Chester Welcome Center is a beautiful way to commemorate their generosity for generations to come,’’ Cullings said.

She added that demand for the library’s resources has never been greater, with McCormick’s location in downtown Harrisburg making it easily accessible.

The expanded McCormick Riverfront Library will feature a 3,400-plus-square-foot family area that incorporates science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math learning support, 950 square feet of public meeting space, added public computer resources and more.

State-of-the-art “zSpace” computers will allow learners to use “augmented reality” to explore nature, conduct science experiments, build digital models and virtually travel to the stars.

And the new M&T Bank Business Center will provide entrepreneurs, small business owners and job seekers access to computers and printers, mailing supplies, notary services and meeting space.

Also, the T. Morris Chester Research collection will curate resources focusing on the value of the vote, and the remodeled space will house the Pennsylvania Past Players, a troupe that showcases the region’s historical advocates for the rights of Blacks, women and others.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Library and literacy council awarded grant funding 

Ephrata Public Library and the York County Literacy Council were among 21 recipients statewide selected for nearly $900,000 in Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants. 

The awards, from the Department of Labor & Industry, will connect Pennsylvanians with the skills they need to navigate the technology platforms used in today’s workplaces. 

Ephrata Public Library received $45,000. A release noted that close to 12% of the community lives below the poverty line and 39% are barely above it. Those without reliable internet access can use the library’s computers to search for jobs, complete schoolwork and do banking, for example. 

York County Literacy Council was allocated $30,000 that will assist adults striving to be digitally literate. Students will learn the basics of internet safety and how to create, communicate and share digital content. 

“Technology used in the workplace will always evolve, so our workforce development strategies must also evolve to secure Pennsylvania’s competitive edge in the global economy,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said in the release. “These grants empower local organizations to build skillsets within their labor force that employers expect workers to possess. When worker skillsets match employer demands, Pennsylvania’s communities and its overall economy grow stronger.” 

Keystone grants awarded to four local libraries 

Four central Pennsylvania public libraries were among 21 libraries in 17 counties across the commonwealth to be awarded Keystone grants totaling $5.3 million from the state Department of Education. 

“Public libraries are a community staple — helping residents access critical services, resources, and programming, from educational materials to broadband,” Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Noe Ortega said in a release. 

Area libraries receiving Keystone Grants for Public Library Facilities are Annville Free Library, Annville Township, $750,000; Ephrata Public Library, Ephrata borough, $32,470.91; Lancaster Public Library, City of Lancaster, $750,000; York County Libraries: Glatfelter Memorial Library, Spring Grove, $80,000. 

The money will help the facilities improve their operations, install equipment and upgrade security systems. Award recipients were selected through a competitive grant process. 

Grants pay up to 50 percent of eligible costs in planning, acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public libraries. Examples of fundable projects include Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades; roof improvements; replacement windows; and expansion. 

New Kreutz Creek Library opens

Hellam Township’s library recently moved into a new building that is over seven times larger than its previous home of 42 years. PHOTO/PROVIDED

After 42 years of working out of a 1,200-square-foot trailer, Kreutz Creek Library has moved into a new home that’s more than seven times larger.

Its location at 66 Walnut Springs Road in Hellam is the 8,800-square-foot former Hellam Township building, now renovated. The Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer that previously housed the library, sheltered families after 1972’s Hurricane Agnes.

The new library features areas for children, teens and adults, a conference room, study room, public access computers, a community room for story time and other activities, and a small courtyard with program space for children and families.

“We have this new library, and we want to offer what other libraries offer in that space,” Kreutz Creek Library Manager Susan Nenstiel said in a release.

“This is a monumental moment for library members, donors, staff, volunteers and the Friends of the Library who worked tirelessly for many years to bring the opening of a new Kreutz Creek Library to fruition,” added York County Libraries President Robert F. Lambert. “This library was a powerhouse in providing resources and opportunities to over 43,000 visitors a year in its tiny quarters. I can’t wait to see its service to the community in this larger state-of-the-art facility.”

Kreutz Creek Library, one of 13 York County Libraries branches, is the first of three system building projects completed. The others are at Martin Library in York and Kaltreider-Benfer Library in Red Lion.

Funds for all three were raised through the “Imagine. Discover. Connect.” capital campaign.

Kreutz Creek Library is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Visitors age 2 and up are asked to wear masks.

Dauphin County Library System begins $3.5 million expansion of historic riverfront library

A rendering of Dauphin County Library System’s incomming expansion to its McCormick Riverfront Library. PHOTO PROVIDED.

The Dauphin County Library System broke ground on a $3.5 million project on Thursday that will combine two historic Harrisburg properties. 

The library system’s project will expand its McCormick Riverfront Library by connecting it with the 5,458-square-foot Front Street residence of Sara Haldeman Haly, who seeded the Dauphin County Library System in 1896. 

When finished, the combined building will boast more than a 3,400-square-foot family area incorporating STEAM learning support, a 950-squaure-foot public meeting space, added public computer resources and more, said the library system in a press release. 

“We’re excited to get started and look forward to standing here about a year from now and welcoming everyone to a dynamic educational and cultural center,” said Karen Cullings, the Dauphin County Library System’s executive director. “The demand for our services has never been higher, and this location in the heart of downtown Harrisburg is easily accessible.”   

The project is expected to be finished in 2022 and the library will remain open during that time. 

The library system is paying for the project with funds from its “Your Place to Belong” campaign. The campaign has raised $2.6 million, or 76% of its goal. 

“For more than a century, this community has generously donated its time and treasure to The Library,” said Your Place to Belong campaign co-chair Andrew Enders. “Now, The Library is returning the favor by investing in the community. We are well on the way to creating an ideal space that models the direction of libraries for the 21st century and beyond.” 

Lancaster Public Library announces plans to move, sell building to St. James Episcopal Church

Lancaster Public Library’s board of trustees has agreed to sell the library building at 125 N. Duke St. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS

As Lancaster Public Library prepares to relocate, its board of trustees announced Wednesday an agreement to sell the library building at 125 N. Duke St.

The purchasers are a group of local investors who are buying the building for its eventual use by historic St. James Episcopal Church, a longtime neighbor of the library.

The price of the transaction will be disclosed once the sale closes, which should be within the next two years. Lancaster-based PPM Real Estate has been retained to manage the sale.

Lancaster Square on North Queen Street is planned to be the future site for the Lancaster Public Library. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS

Founded in 1759, Lancaster Public Library is one of the oldest public libraries in the country. Today, it serves approximately 211,000 Lancaster County residents in 14 municipalities.

“The most fiscally responsible decision the board can make in preparation for the library’s move to Barney Ewell Plaza is to first secure the sale of the Duke Street building,” Board of Trustees President Aaron Sherman said in a release.

A capital campaign is also being done to support the move.

The library will occupy the first two floors of a new nine-story building facing the former Lancaster Square, which “will improve library services to the Lancaster community with expanded and improved interior and exterior spaces, ADA compliance, and closer proximity to the heart of downtown Lancaster,” the release said.

After the shell of the space is finished, the library is responsible for finishing, equipping and furnishing the interior.

Until that’s done, the library will remain at its current site and keep ownership of the building. Once the move is complete and the sale is finalized, the property will likely be converted to offices until St. James, a parish that dates to 1744, has finalized its plans for the building.

“Only once in a century does an opportunity like this appear,” said Rev. David Peck, rector of St. James, in the release. “As a parish that continues to grow, the lay leadership of St. James is grateful for the chance to explore every option for this property, with insight from our many ministry partners, including our bishop and diocese, as well as members of the congregation and wider community.”

Public libraries offer summer reading programs to help stop ‘summer slide’

To battle the effects of summer slide, public libraries around Pennsylvania offer summer reading programs to interested students and their families.

Studies show that summer slide is exacerbated by socioeconomic status – and the gap caused by summer slide only widens over time. After just a few summers, students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds will see their reading achievement scores drop below national averages.

On Thursday, July 13, Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera visited Newberry Elementary School in the West Shore School District to tour its mobile library, which travels across the region bringing books to students of all ages under the district’s “Driving Reading Home” literacy program.

“Summer vacation is a fun-filled time for children across the commonwealth, but spending too much time away from studies can have detrimental effects on a student’s future success,” Secretary Rivera said. “Children who do not engage in educational activities during the summer months may often lose developmental milestones and important reading retention skills. West Shore School District’s efforts to promote summer reading will certainly help its students combat the summer slide.”

The federal Keystones to Opportunity grant is awarded to Pennsylvania schools to improve literacy outcomes for all students. The program supports programs that advance literacy skills through professional development, screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice.

Visit your local library for more information on summer and year-round reading and education programs for kids and teens:

Adams County Library

Cumberland County Libraries

Dauphin County Library System

Franklin County Library System

Library System of Lancaster County

Library System of Lebanon County

Public Libraries of Perry County

York County Libraries


Dauphin County Library introduces new mobile learning center MARCO


The Dauphin County Library System has a new mobile learning center, MARCO, the Exploration Station, that houses a small collection of books and other items for lending, and computer equipment for group and individual use.

The library sees the main role for MARCO as taking library programming to a variety of locations such as shelters, elder care facilities, child care centers, parks and community events. Funding was provided entirely through private foundation grants and individual gifts.

Learn more about MARCO and MARCO’s upcoming appearance schedule online.

To find out more about special events and reading programs for children and teens, visit the Dauphin County Library System’s events calendar.