TheBurg Podcast: One for the Record Books 

🎧 Listen Here.

The February episode of TheBurg Podcast features two people from the pages of TheBurg's February magazine: Karen Cullings, executive director of the Dauphin County Library (from the magazine story “Pandemic Plot Twists”) and Stefan Hawkins, who recently opened Good Brotha’s Book Café (from the magazine story “Cup of Culture”).

This episode was released on February 11, 2021.

 

‘Your Place to Belong’ campaign to transform McCormick Riverfront Library wins Premier Project Award

 

The Dauphin County Library System’s “Your Place to Belong” campaign focused on expanding the McCormick Riverfront Library with the restoration and linking of an adjacent historic townhome has won a Dauphin County “Premier Project Award’’ from the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.

Selected from a record 23 entries competing for five categories, The Library’s campaign won for “Growing Our Economy.” Projects were judged on effectiveness and results; originality and innovation; ease of replication; community involvement and participation; and compatibility with the Dauphin County Comprehensive Plan.

“We are honored to have our campaign recognized for the benefits of integrating the McCormick Riverfront Library with the Haldeman Haley House to Harrisburg and the surrounding community,” said Karen Cullings, The Library’s executive director. “The expansion will allow us to expand children’s programming and a host of other services.”

In 1896, Sara Haldeman Haly donated $60,000 to build a modern library and land adjoining her home – the McCormick Riverfront Library site. The Library had the opportunity to acquire the Haldeman Haley House in 2019, presenting a golden opportunity to expand the popular downtown location.

Assisting The Library in the project are the Alexander Design Group architecture firm and JEM Group construction management.

The Library’s $3.5 million “Your Place to Belong” capital campaign is underway to restore Haldeman Haly House and reconfigure McCormick Riverfront Library. The transformation will create:

  • Dedicated children’s area, where kids and families can explore STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

  • Flexible community meeting and event space in the beautiful Haldeman Haly House.

  • Improved ADA access.

  • Expanded adults services areas, for study, computer use, and reading in accommodating, socially distant fashion.

  • Upgraded furnishings that will be easier to sanitize.

  • Courtyard for outdoor events.

“Every day, people are using our computers to look for work or advance their education, and families depend on us to help their children succeed in school,” Cullings said. “Expanding McCormick will allow us to provide more public-access computers and increased educational programming for children, which have become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information on the project and to learn how you can help, please visit dcls.org/YourPlace.

 

Dauphin County Library System Closing Two Harrisburg Locations Saturday as a Precaution

 

Harrisburg, PA — The McCormick Riverfront and Madeline L. Olewine Memorial libraries in Harrisburg will be closed Saturday as a precaution due to heightened security concerns, and a decision on when to reopen later in the week will depend on the situation downtown.

McCormick Riverfront, 101 Walnut Street, and Madeline L. Olewine Memorial, 2410 North Third St., do not have Sunday hours and were scheduled to be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Library’s other six locations will be open as usual.

“We fervently hope that any protests remain peaceful; however, we feel it is important to err on the side of caution to keep our staff and visitors safe,’’ said Karen Cullings, The Library’s Executive Director. “Given the increased security throughout downtown Harrisburg due to potential threats, we think it is best to keep both locations closed until we are sure the situation is safe.’’

Cullings said members can still access a wide range of materials on The Library’s website, www.dcls.org Additionally, the public can check the site for updates on when the two locations will reopen.

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Law enforcement officials outline plans to protect Pennsylvania Capitol in case of unrest (WGAL)

Guard to defend Pennsylvania Capitol, city to close streets (WITF)

Some businesses close ahead of Sunday protest in Harrisburg (ABC27)

Dauphin County Library System closing 2 Harrisburg locations Saturday as a precaution (PennLive)

 

“Minds Matter Harrisburg” Workshop Kick’s Off the New Year


Black Girl Health Foundation has partnered with the Dauphin County Library System and National Network of Libraries of Medicine to present “Minds Matter Harrisburg” on Saturday, January 23 from 11:00 am until 4:30 pm.

The day-long virtual workshop will feature opening remarks and six mental health-related sessions led by expert panelists with the intention to educate and empower African American women on mental health.

11:00 am: Kick-off
Opening remarks from Porcha Johnson, Executive Director of BGH Foundation; Lynette Chappell-Williams, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Penn State Health; Tina L. Nixon, Vice President, Mission Effectiveness and Chief Diversity Officer at PinnacleHealth Hospitals; and Karen Cullings, Executive Director of the Dauphin County Library System.

11:20 am: Building Mental Strength with Pilates
Ava Adames, Pilates Instructor, will discuss and demonstrate how to heal mind and body with an introductory Pilates course.

12:10 pm: Put Your Money Where your Mind Is
Ericka Neville, Financial Literacy Consultant, will discuss how to control expenses to free up disposable income.

1:00 pm: Young Minds Matter
Maya Penn, Entrepreneur and Local Youth Advocate, will discuss self-esteem and cognitive therapy through group talk.

1:50 pm: BLM Panel Discussion: Bridging the Racial Divide
Panelists will discuss ways to maintain mental health while being black in America. Topics include injustice, racial trauma, and pandemic stress. Panelists are Reverend Brenda Alton, City Councilwoman Danielle L. Bowers, Dr. Latesha Thompson, and Tyra Garner.

2:55 pm: Beating Depression Naturally
Dr. Julissa Hernandez, BCND, ND, CNHP, will discuss natural approaches to coping with anxiety and depression.

3:45 pm: Nourish Your Mind
Lauren C. Wells, Holistic Health and Fitness Coach, will discuss foods that are beneficial to cognitive health, balancing hormones, and reducing stress.

Registration is required. Learn more about the panelists and register for the workshop by visiting mindsmatter.blackgirlhealthfoundation.org and selecting “Minds Matter Harrisburg” from the “Upcoming Events” menu.

 

Kline Library in Harrisburg closing for week as precaution after staffer tests positive for COVID-19


Harrisburg, PA — The Kline Library in Harrisburg will close Tuesday, December 15 and reopen at 10 a.m. the following Tuesday, December 22, as a precaution after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

While all six of the location’s staff are quarantining, health guidelines indicate spread to those working or visiting Kline is unlikely because of precautions in place. Safety measures at Kline and all locations include masks and face shields worn by employees, continuous cleaning, masks worn by visitors, plexiglass shielding and social distancing.

“In addition to the safety precautions we take at all our libraries, interactions between the public and staff are almost always less than 15 minutes,’’ said Karen Cullings, The Library’s Executive Director. “Because public interactions are brief, and we adhere to strict protection and social distancing guidelines, we believe the chance that our staff member spread the virus to either co-workers or the public is slight.’’

Despite the low risk of spread, Cullings said keeping the public and staff as safe as possible is the number one priority, which is why Kline is closing for a week.

Cullings said the staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 said their exposure did not happen at work.

Due to the statewide coronavirus spike, last month The Library suspended the use of its meeting rooms. However, locations remain open for other services, including accessing public computers and browsing for materials.

  • To avoid having too many people in a building at one time, the public is asked to limit their visits to all libraries to no more than an hour, including for computer use or to use Curbside Pickup for contactless service.

Additionally, The Library is also no longer waiving its indoor mask-wearing requirements for medical reasons. Members who cannot wear masks can either order materials online or call ahead and arrange “curbside pickup” of their books and other items. All locations will have masks available for those who need them.

“Many in our community rely on us for internet and computer access and other services,” Cullings said. “We are committed to meeting the public’s needs in a safe way that follows all state and federal guidelines.”

For more information about The Library, including location hours, Curbside Pickup, ordering materials, accessing the vast array of online programming and other information, please visit www.dcls.org.

 

The Library honored to carry the culture awareness torch lit by the Commonwealth Monument Project

“T. Morris Chester Welcome Center” will be centerpiece of planned McCormick Riverfront Library expansion

Harrisburg, PA — At Monday’s unveiling of the final sculptures celebrating the historic role African Americans played in Harrisburg, the Dauphin County Library System received the honor of being asked to continue the project’s message of understanding and cultural diversity.

In response, The Library announced the “T. Morris Chester Welcome Center” will occupy the central location of the planned expansion of the McCormick Riverfront Library. The $3.5 million project includes connecting the adjacent 5,458-square-foot residence of Sara Haldeman Haly, whose bequest in 1896 seeded the Dauphin County Library System.

“The Library’s core mission is to promote understanding and equality through education, and we are humbled that the Commonwealth Monument Project’s organizers picked us to carry the torch,” said Karen Cullings, The Library’s executive director. “Thomas Morris Chester is a shining example of those we want to recognize.”

T. Morris Chester, one of the statues unveiled today, recruited Black troops to help defend Harrisburg in 1863 when the Confederacy drew near. He was also the Civil War’s only African American war correspondent.

“We are truly touched by the trust those behind the Commonwealth Monument have placed in The Library, and we promise to live up to the responsibility,” said La-Verna Fountain, a member of The Library’s Board of Trustees. “We call ourselves ‘Your Place to Belong’ because we are committed to inclusion and acceptance.”

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.

“At Riverfront and our other seven locations, as well as online, we provide resources and programs for children and adults and assist those of all ages with access to the digital world,” Cullings said. “Above all, we want to make sure that all we do reflects the backgrounds and cultures of those in our community.”

Cullings said the collaboration announcement was further strengthened by the recent news that the McCormick expansion project received a substantial Keystone Recreation Park and Conservation Fund grant through the state’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries and Department of Education.

“This critical funding gives us the means of delivering on our promise to carry the monument’s mission forward,” Cullings said. “Downtown Harrisburg is changing in many positive ways at the same time that 44 percent of its children are in households below the poverty level. The demand for our services has never been greater or more diverse.”

For more information and to support this project please visit dcls.org/YourPlace.

 

Dauphin County Library System’s Millersburg location now open

Health precautions remain in place

Harrisburg, PA – The Johnson Memorial Library, in Millersburg on East Center Street, reopened on Monday, August 17, marking the partial reopening of all Dauphin County Library System locations.

“We are excited to announce that all eight of our libraries are now available to our members,” said Karen Cullings, executive director. “We continue to offer a wide range of services online and will keep offering curbside pickup at most of our libraries."

The Johnson Memorial Library, which connects to the Millersburg Area high school and middle school complex, will be open from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The Millersburg Area School District expects to reopen schools on August 24, and students will be able to use The Library during and after school.

The following services are available throughout The Library system:

• Senior-only Hour: In all other library locations, a seniors-only hour from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays is being offered.

• Limited Lifted on District Loans: Starting Monday, August 24, district loans will no longer be limited to 5 requests per month. Members may now submit unlimited requests for materials from the Capital Area Library District, which include libraries in Cumberland and Perry counties, as well as the Hershey and Middletown libraries. Loan requests to libraries outside the Capital Area Library District (interlibrary loan) are still limited to three per month.

• Limited meeting room availability: One meeting room each at the East Shore Area and Elizabethville Area Libraries and three in the William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library are now available for community gatherings of 10 or fewer persons. Virtual Zoom rooms are also available. For more information or to reserve a room, go to dcls.org/meetingrooms  

• Free Wi-Fi, available at all locations inside and outside of the libraries, will remain accessible. 

Online programs and curbside delivery

During this limited building reopening, members can request materials online for check out using Curbside Pickup – either through BookAdvisor or the online catalog – choosing their preferred available location for pickup. Members without computer access may request materials by calling 717-652-9380. Please note that curbside pickup is not available at McCormick Riverfront or Johnson Memorial libraries.

Once notified that their materials are ready, members have one week to retrieve their selections. All items are placed in new, clean, recyclable paper bags. A designated parking area is available, and members can call the number on the sign, verify their information, and remain in their cars while a staff member brings their items.

Members who wish to browse for their materials, or pick-up their requested materials inside The Library, can visit and browse for up to one hour. Public computers are also available for one-hour use.

Due to coronavirus health concerns, The Library continues to offer all programs virtually through Zoom or Facebook, from children’s storytimes to adult book clubs. Visit dcls.org/eventscalendar to register for programs hosted on Zoom, visit facebook.com/DCLS.PA and click on “Groups” in the left sidebar to join the “Adult Programs at The Library” Facebook Group, or join a book club on the Beyond the Shelves blog.

Cullings encourages the public to explore the full range of databases, eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming music and movies available online. Users need a library card for access, and Dauphin County residents can get a card for free by visiting dcls.org/getcard.

For more information about The Library’s reopening plan, specific locations, ordering materials, accessing the vast array of online programming and other information, please visit dcls.org.  

 

Dauphin County Library System to partially reopen two additional locations on Tuesday

Health precautions remain in place

Harrisburg, PA – The Kline and McCormick Riverfront libraries in Harrisburg will partially reopen at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 21, joining five other locations that began serving members last month. 

Mindful of the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19, the Dauphin County Library System will continue implementing the health precautions started with the initial openings, including allowing members up to an hour to enter the buildings to select and check out materials or use the public computers. The Library also asks all visitors to wear masks, which are available for those who need them. 

Karen Cullings, executive director, said the timing of the final location to reopen  Johnson Memorial Library in Millersburg  depends on the availability of staff and pandemic status. 

“We realize the important role The Library plays in the life of our community, and we are moving to open our facilities as quickly as possible while ensuring we keep our staff and the public safe,” said Cullings. “With these latest openings, we are happy to welcome members to all our Harrisburg locations.”

• Kline, 530 S. 29th St., and McCormick Riverfront, 101 Walnut St., are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Kline is also open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Both are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and McCormick Riverfront is closed on Saturdays. 

Locations already open: 

Northern Dauphin County Library, 683 Main Street, Lykens. 
East Shore Area Library, 4501 Ethel Street, Lower Paxton Township.  
Madeline L. Olewine Memorial Library, 2410 N. Third Street, Harrisburg. 
William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library, 200 W. Second Street, Hummelstown.  
Elizabethville Area Library, 80 N. Market Street, Washington Township. 

Hours: Except for Elizabethville, which is closed on Mondays, the libraries are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The East Shore Area Library is also open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.  

Seniors-only hour is from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at all open locations. 

Limited meeting rooms now available: One meeting room in the East Shore Area Library and three in the William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library are now available for community gatherings of 10 or fewer persons. Virtual Zoom rooms are also available. For more information or to reserve a room, go to dcls.org/meetingrooms  

Free Wi-Fi, available outside at all locations since the lockdown began March 13, will remain accessible. 

Online programs and curbside delivery remain 

During this limited building reopening, members wanting to check out items may request the materials online for Curbside Pickup – either through BookAdvisor or the online catalog –choosing their preferred open location for pickup. Members without computer access may request materials by calling 717-652-9380. Please note that curbside pickup is not available at McCormick Riverfront Library.

Once they have been notified their materials are ready, members have one week to retrieve their selections. All items are placed in new, clean, recyclable paper bags. A designated parking area is available, and members will call the number on the sign, verify their information, and remain in their cars while a staff member brings their items.   

Due to coronavirus health concerns, The Library continues to offer all programs virtually through Zoom or Facebook, from children’s storytimes to adult book clubs. Visit dcls.org/eventscalendar to register for children’s and adult’s programs on Zoom and visit facebook.com/DCLS.PA and click on “Groups” in the left sidebar to join “Adult Programs at The Library.” 

Cullings encourages the public to explore the full range of databases, eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming music and movies available online. Users need a library card for access, and Dauphin County residents can get a card for free by visiting dcls.org/getcard.

Staying safe during the pandemic 

Meanwhile, The Library’s stringent safety precautions continue, including quarantining returned items for three days before returning them to circulation, and having staff clean all publicly accessible areas every two hours. Additionally, all staff members are receiving training in cleaning and sanitizing procedures. At the start of each shift, staff have their temperature taken and answer health screening questions. Staff also use gloves when handling items used by the public and when delivering materials for curbside pickup. 

For more information about The Library’s reopening plan, ordering materials, accessing the vast array of online programming and other information, please visit dcls.org.   

 

Northern Dauphin Library to partially reopen Monday, June 29

As part of “green” reopening, members can enter libraries for an hour to use computers or check out books and other materials 

Harrisburg, PA – The Northern Dauphin Library in Lykens will partially reopen at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 29, joining four other locations that began serving members earlier this month. 

Additionally, in keeping with the state’s COVID-19 “green” precautions designed to keep everyone safe, all five Dauphin County Library System locations will allow members up to an hour to access the buildings to select and check out materials. Previously, members were only allowed in for up to an hour to use the public computers. 

“While we are now letting members browse the shelves, we want to limit visits to an hour so we can avoid too many people in the building at once and maintain safe social distancing,’’ said Karen Cullings, The Library’s executive director. “We continue to ask that all visitors wear masks, and all locations will have masks available for those who need them.” 

As of Monday, the following libraries are open: 

• Northern Dauphin Library, 683 Main Street, Lykens. 
• East Shore Area Library, 4501 Ethel Street, Lower Paxton Township.  
• Madeline L. Olewine Memorial Library, 2410 N. Third Street, Harrisburg.  
• William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library, 200 W. Second Street, Hummelstown.  
• Elizabethville Area Library, 80 N. Market Street, Washington Township.  

Except for Elizabethville, which is closed on Mondays, the libraries will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The East Shore Area Library will also be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Seniors only hour is from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at all open locations.  

Free Wi-Fi, available outside at all locations since the lockdown began March 13, will remain accessible. 

All programs are still online and curbside delivery recommended 

During this limited building reopening, members are still encouraged to use Curbside Pickup to check out items either through BookAdvisor (dcls.org/bookadvisor) or the online catalog (dcls.org/catalog) – choosing their preferred open location for curbside pickup. Members without computer access may request materials by calling 717-652-9380.   

Once they have been notified their materials are ready, members will have one week to retrieve their selections. All items will be placed in new, clean, recyclable paper shopping bags. A designated parking area will be available, and members will call the number on the sign, have their account information verified, and a staff member will bring the items to them while they remain in their cars.   

Due to coronavirus health concerns, The Library continues to offer all its programs virtually, from children’s storytimes to adult book clubs. All Children’s programs are held on Zoom, while adult programs are held on Zoom, the Adult Programs at The Library Facebook group, or The Library’s “Beyond the Shelves” blog (dcls.org/BeyondTheShelves). 

Registration information for all online programs is available at dcls.org/src. Visit facebook.com/DCLS.PA and click on “Groups” in the left sidebar to join Adult Programs at The Library or Children’s Programs at The Library groups. 

Cullings encouraged the public to explore the full range of databases, eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming music and movies available online. Users need a library card for access, and Dauphin County residents can get a card for free by visiting dcls.org/getcard

Staying safe during the pandemic 

Cullings said the reopening of the last three locations – Johnson Memorial Library in Millersburg and the Kline and McCormick Riverfront libraries in Harrisburg – depends on the availability of staff and pandemic status. 

Meanwhile, The Library’s stringent safety precautions continue, including having staff clean all publicly accessible areas every two hours. Additionally, all staff members are receiving training covering cleaning and sanitizing procedures, and at the start of each shift will have their temperature taken and answer health screening questions. Staff use gloves when handling items used by the public and when delivering materials for curbside pickup. 

“The wellbeing of our members and staff is paramount as we continue our reopening process,’’ Culling said. “Safety is our number one priority as we continue to provide the services on which our community depends.’’ 

For more information about The Library’s reopening plan, ordering materials, accessing the vast array of online programming and other information, please visit dcls.org/reopeningplan.   

 

Dauphin County Library System affirms its role in fostering understanding and connecting a diverse community

HARRISBURG, PA -- Maintaining that these tense, divisive times are no time for libraries to remain silent, the staff and Board of Trustees of the Dauphin County Library System issued a strong statement today condemning racism and reinforcing The Library’s longstanding commitment to fostering understanding.

Karen Cullings, The Library’s executive director, said that the death of George Floyd and the inequities faced by so many other people of color inspired the board to speak out.

Cullings said Martin Luther King’s quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” serves as a guidepost to The Library’s efforts to connect all segments of the community in kindness and to serve as a cornerstone of our democracy.

“We reject bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all forms. We stand for access. For everyone…. We need to be better. To be better, together,” the statement reads, in part.

“For more than 100 years, our core mission has involved providing access and opportunity for everyone, along with the safe exploration of ideas,” Cullings said. “In the fight for racial equality and social justice, libraries offer inclusion and acceptance. We invite every resident to be part of a place where everyone belongs.”

The Library’s plan is to join the community by speaking with action rather than intention. As a first step, with the help of community volunteers, The Library has compiled a reading list of thought provoking works it now owns and invites the community to engage in conversation and offer suggestions for additional resources.

A curated reading list to learn more about the history of racial injustice in the shared journey for healing is available at www.dcls.org/promotingunderstanding.  Among the books included on The Library’s new reading list are The Youngest Marcher, The Day You Begin, Be Boy Buzz and Separate is Never Equal. To suggest additional books that could be added to The Library’s collection visit dcls.org/suggest_book.

As The Library reopens in a limited capacity today after an eight-week shutdown at the hands of COVID-19, the stage is set for additional dialogue, Cullings said.

“Our libraries serve as trusted spaces in the community, where people from all walks of life come to find jobs, learn new skills, examine new perspectives, connect with others, and grow in understanding,’’ Cullings said. “We do not take that trust lightly. We are not perfect at this, no library is, but with this statement and our daily actions, The Library commits to being open for listening and, as always, stands ready to be part of the solution.”

> > Read The Library's Statement 

> > View the curated reading list