Pennsylvania awards $750,000 grant for expansion of historic McCormick Riverfront Library

A $750,000 Keystone Grant from the state’s Department of Education will provide critical funding to expand downtown Harrisburg’s McCormick Riverfront Library and help it meet the increased demand for services.

“We give heartfelt thanks to Gov. Tom Wolf, Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega and Deputy Secretary for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries Glenn R. Miller for this generous grant,’’ said Karen Cullings, the Dauphin County Library System’s executive director. “This grant, and what it means for our community, cannot be emphasized enough.’’

The $3.5 million expansion 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 McCormick expansion will offer more than 2,000-square-feet for a family area that incorporates Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math learning support, additional public meeting space, added public computer resources, and more.

“Whether it is to find jobs, learn new skills, examine new perspectives, or connect with others, our community relies on The Library,’’ said Board of Trustees President Annie Garner. “This expansion will especially allow us to provide more public-access computers and increased educational programming for children, which have become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.’’

Cullings said The Library is about to kick off fundraising for the project they call the “Your Place to Belong’’ campaign. Those interested in contributing can visit dcls.org/YourPlace. The website will be updated as fundraising and the project progress.

“The McCormick Riverfront Library is within easy access of downtown residents and workers as well as many of our area’s most vulnerable individuals’’ Cullings said. “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.’’

In its Keystone application, The Library spelled out additional details about the project:

• Recover and restore approximately 2,131-square-feet of library space to the community as a children’s and family area that incorporates STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning support.
• Replace outdated ADA access to the library with two accessible entry points and make Haldeman Haly House ADA accessible.
• Provide 796-square-feet of flexible community meeting and event space in a unique historic setting (Haldeman Haly House).
• Provide expanded first floor library space for the community partnerships being developed as part of the library’s role as second responder, such as the existing partnership with Dauphin County Human Services and the proposed partnership with Adams & Associates, a Job Corps company.
• Provide outdoor recreational space in the rear courtyard, adaptable from parking to larger event space.
• Restore, preserve, and repurpose two important historic landmarks.
• Play a vital role in Harrisburg’s urban revitalization, helping to answer its need for early learning, STEM learning and job-seeking support as well as cultural enrichment.