The Library is a place to feel at home.

And you lay the foundation.

This report demonstrates the impact you had last year.

Building Community

In 2020, The Library began asking, “What kind of community do you want to live in?"

We found out that our communities crave a safe and inclusive space that is friendly and helpful. Moving into 2020, we are focusing on building a connected and inclusive community where all community members belong and learn.

A Strong Foundation


715,283 In-Person Visits | 9% increase

526,515 Website Visits

1.2 million Total Visits


1.1 million Physical Items Borrowed

192,082 Electronic Items Borrowed

Hoopla eBooks - 23% increase

OverDrive eBooks - 14% increase

Access for All:

137,748 Reference Questions Answered | 36% increase

108,554 Computer Sessions

680 Laptop Borrows

53,296 Wi-Fi Sessions

4.8 million Minutes at Public Computers | 5% increase

Inviting the Neighbors

The Library is proud to be a community hub. To ensure that our members and visitors can access the vital information they need, we eliminated a few barriers.

Many of our members had a hard time getting to The Library to pick up books, movies, music, and other items themselves. Now members can add an authorized user to their library accounts. This allows a spouse, caregiver, grandparent, or partner to help manage a member’s account.

Computer time is in high demand. We eliminated computer time limits so that members could stay on their computers longer as long as computers were available and others were not waiting.

We also:

Eliminated the $2 per hour fee for computer guest passes

Opened our meeting rooms by making unreserved meeting rooms available as an impromptu, quiet workspace

Began providing cell phone charging cords at each library location upon request

The Family Den: Building Bonds at Storytime

Storytimes focus on strengthening bonds between kids, their parents, and their caregivers through a shared love of reading.

These foundational programs supported a lot of shared reading! Last year, 6,397 children (5 years and younger) and 5,407 caregivers or parents attended 750 storytimes at The Library!

Storytimes provide adults an opportunity to learn and model the 5 early learning literacies – reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing – for their children. These five practices create the foundation for early learning and set kids up for success as they enter formal schooling.

Ultimately, we help adults to continue to model these practices at home and become their child’s first teacher.


1,601 babies and 1,546 caregivers attended 265 Born to Read Programs

2,155 kids (5 & under) and 1,481 caregivers attended 205 Preschool Storytimes

2,641 kids (5 & under) and 2,380 caregivers attended 280 Toddler Times

On the Road: Traveling Storytimes

Storytimes travel! Last year, we took storytimes on the road 944 times, reaching 10,153 kids (5 years and under) and 1,921 caregivers! Our focus is on one- and two-star daycare centers throughout Dauphin County.

We encourage the children at each storytime to practice reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing together.

Teachers and caregivers are often surprised by how engaged their kids are during library visits. We encourage them to continue using the modeled early learning techniques in their classroom after we leave.


1,592 babies and 424 caregivers attended 207 Born to Read sessions

5,803 kids (5 & under) and 971 caregivers attended 467 Preschool Storytimes

2,758 kids (5 & under) and 526 caregivers attended 270 Toddler Times

Honoring Ancestors:

Hari Jones: Hidden Histories Program Series

Hari Jones was a prolific historian, curator, and educator with extensive knowledge of the vital role African Americans played in the U.S. Civil War.

That knowledge brought him to Dauphin County in 2013 for the Civil War 150th Commemoration, where he led his award-winning The Lost Story presentation. He returned in 2018 with a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – A Time to Remember the Dream – as part of the MLK50 Commemoration.

Jones championed historical truth and primary sources. He pursued the truth behind our nation’s past and spoke to audiences across the U.S. about his work.

On October 10, the Dauphin County Commissioners, Historian Calobe Jackson, and our Executive Director, Karen Cullings, unveiled the Hari Jones: Hidden Histories Collection. Approximately 90 people joined us for the collection’s launch.

The program series kicked off in February 2020. 148 lifelong learners attended The American Civil War: A War for Freedom, presented by Professor Scott Hancock, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Gettysburg College.

Learn more about the collection, upcoming programs and workshops, and the Hari Jones Memorial Fund at

The Library has partnered with the Dauphin County Commissioners to create a carefully curated, permanent Hidden Histories collection and program series that celebrates the life and work of visionary historian, Hari Jones. Both the program series and collection have been designed to foster ongoing community dialogue, discussion and discernment.

Tend the Garden: Adults & Lifelong Learning

Learning is a lifelong pursuit! And many adults take advantage of the books, resources, and programming provided by The Library.

2,040 adults attended 291 programs designed for adult learners at one of our eight libraries. 214 enjoyed stress-free activities at Mid-Day Getaway, 117 met real-life astronauts, Scott Altman and Dr. James Pawelczyk, and 84 donated blood at Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank Blood Drives.

We also hosted musical performances, held information sessions about buying a first home, learned life-saving techniques at Stop the Bleed, and introduced adults to Medicare options at Medicare 101.

Our Growing Village of Volunteers

Our village of volunteers help us meet the varied needs in our communities. They keep our bookshelves tidy, greet program and event participants, process new library materials, answer tech questions, and much more!

Our village doubled in size this year! 239 volunteers gave 10,099 hours in 2019. Their collective contributions equal the hours of 5.18 full time employees.

The Library’s Board of Trustees is 100% volunteer and contributed 528 hours of service and guidance to The Library throughout the year.

Heart for Service Scholarship Fund

The Heart for Service Scholarship is 100% funded by the employees of the Dauphin County Library System. The employees appreciate the time and talents provided by The Library’s volunteers.

This scholarship provides $500 financial support for continued education of volunteers who complete at least 50 hours of service. During the Annual Fund Drive, our staff and Senior Management Team gave $958 towards the Heart for Service Scholarship fund.

These funds will be awarded in 2020 to applicants 16 or older, who are accepted or enrolled as a college or trade school student.

On the Road Again: Visiting with Neighbors

MARCO and our outreach staff took our services, programs and collection to our underserved communities 1,291 timesreaching more than 31,000 people outside of our library walls!

Two of the most meaningful – and it’s hard to choose – were our visits to senior living facilities and homeless communities in Harrisburg.

Senior Living

346 seniors attended 29 programs or outreach events at 7 senior living facilities.

During many of these visits, we led a program called Timeslips, designed to engage those with memory problems through creativity and imagination. The program provides a way for people to connect with individual who have experienced memory loss. These sessions bring joy to participants and program facilitators alike.

At each program, participants are shown an image and asked to create a story around it.

"We used this image to create a story with the dementia patients. They had a good time talking about instruments and what type of music was playing.

At the end of the session, we played related music – “The Twist,” “The Pennsylvania Polka,” and “Sway” by Michael Bublé. The residents aren’t mobile, but that didn’t stop them from dancing! Ethel kicked her feet, Bob moved to the beat, and Millie clapped her hands with me. George even stood up with his walker and shook his hips." - Holly E.

Homeless Communities

First sentence should be: “Via MARCO, library staff connected with 405 people experiencing homelessness in our community.

To maximize impact, we partnered with Harrisburg-based nonprofit, Hands and Feet Ministries. We provide books, resource information, basic toiletries, hats and scarves donated to our Warm Hands, Warm Hearts initiative, as well as a charging station. Hands and Feet Ministries provides food and ministry.

Providing a charging station allowed our visitors to charge their phones while they browsed books from our free community collection, received a meal, and enjoyed fellowship with Hands and Feet Ministries.

“Our Outreach Pilots started participating in a twice monthly outreach to individuals experiencing homlessness in Harrisburg. They take MARCO to three locations in the city. Community collection books are made available, but what attendees appreciate most is charging their devices.

Since MARCO has outlets on the outside of it, we allowed people to plug in and purchased extra charging cords so people can charge up even if they do not have a cord. One gentleman, grateful for the chance to charge his phone, asked a staff member when The Library was going to be under the bridge again." - Holly E.

Returning to our Roots

In August 2019, we announced the purchase of the former governor’s residence next door to the McCormick Riverfront Library.

Thanks to the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Foundation, The Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation and other donors, The Library had more than $250,000 to start planning the project.

The residence will be used as administrative and community space. This will allow the lower level of the McCormick Riverfront Library to become a dedicated children’s area with additional STEM learning opportunities for kids – especially those living or attending school in the Harrisburg-area school district and other nearby schools.

The residence was also the home of Sara Haldeman Haly, the catalyst behind the creation of the Harrisburg Public Library, who donated land and created an endowment fund through her estate.

Dedicated Donors

You and the rest of our incredible donors contributed more than $672,000 to library service in 2019! That’s 34% more than last year.

Our Library Friends groups gave nearly $43,000, and countless hours of volunteer time, supported Library fundraising events, and planned numerous programs for our communities to enjoy – including a meet and greet in Elizabethville with children’s author Gordon Korman.

Income / Expense Report

View Full 2018 Income / Expense Report >


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Thank you for making 2019 a year of connection and community!