Construction begins on $3.5 million merger of McCormick Riverfront Library with its founder’s home, harnessing history for future generations
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The past is transforming for future generations as two historic Harrisburg properties – the McCormick Riverfront Library and Haldeman Haly House – combine to create a vibrant community hub.
Today’s groundbreaking celebrated the official start of Dauphin County Library System’s $3.5 million project and highlighted the aptly named “Your Place to Belong” (YourPlaceToBelong.org) campaign to raise funds for the expanded library.
“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 expands the McCormick Riverfront Library by connecting it with the 5,458-square-foot Front Street residence of Sara Haldeman Haly, whose bequest in 1896 seeded the Dauphin County Library System. When completed, the combined building will boast more than 3,400-square feet for a 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.
- Throughout construction on the project, the McCormick Riverfront Library will remain open.
"I am proud to be a neighbor, patron of the McCormick Riverfront Library, and supporter of Dauphin County Library System. Our local library system is a fine example of what a strong organization led by creative professionals and committed volunteers can accomplish for its community,” said Susan Banks, Acting Deputy Secretary and State Librarian for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. “The transformation of these historic buildings is a model of our shared vision of excellent and equitable library services to every Pennsylvanian.’’
Additionally, the expanded library will house the wealth of materials gathered by the Commonwealth Monument Project’s organizers as they planned the “A Gathering at the Crossroads” monument telling the stories of 100 historically significant women and men who contributed to Harrisburg’s development and community. When completed, visitors will enter through the T. Morris Chester Welcome Center – whose likeness is part of the Commonwealth Monument and whose far-ranging career included service as the Civil War’s only Black war correspondent.
The Library has previously worked with the Commonwealth Monument organizers on programs highlighting Harrisburg’s Old Eighth Ward, where the Capitol complex now stands. More recently, The Library’s locations have set up “Knowledge Promotes Understanding” displays at all locations featuring books and information about social and racial justice.
“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.”
By seizing on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and implementing a visionary plan, The Library is recharging its mission to serve as the region’s trusted partner for growth and connection, said campaign co-chair Susan L. Anthony. She thanked the many donors whose generosity has gotten the campaign close to its $3.5 million goal.
This project is supported in part through a grant from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Pennsylvania Department of Education, with funds provided from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.
The Library’s board also wants to thank the many businesses and organizations who made substantial contributions, including: The Stabler Foundation; Pollock Foundation; The Hershey Company; Carole Desoto; Josiah W. & Bessie H. Kline Foundation; John Crain Kunkel Foundation; Dauphin County Community & Economic Development; and William H. & Marion C. Alexander. (Please see below for additional donor information).
“The historic belief in the power of learning is baked into the bricks and stones of these buildings,” said Anthony. “With tremendous help from people and organizations throughout the region, we are bringing new purpose and meaning to a Library that has already proven its power to change lives. Harrisburg is becoming an even better place to live and work, and our Library is right in the heart of that transformation.”
- For more information about the project and how the public can help support the effort, please visit YourPlaceToBelong.org.
About the Dauphin County Library System
The Library provides county residents with free access to virtually any materials imaginable both online and at its eight locations throughout Dauphin County. It offers books, movies, music, magazines, online access, people to help with research and programs that support personal and community growth. For more information or to register for a free library card, go to dcls.org.
The Dauphin County Library System thanks everyone whose generosity is making this historic project possible. Below are additional lead donors, and the full list of all those who are supporting the project, along with information on how you can contribute, is available at YourPlaceToBelong.org
- M&T Bank
- McCormick Family Foundation
- Mid Penn Bank
- Mary & Sherill Moyer
- David W. Volkman
- Andrew M. Enders, Esq.
- Don and Anna Maria Enders
- RSR Realtors & Rothman Family Foundation
- Susan L. Anthony
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The Library's photo gallery on Flickr.