Why I support libraries: Dominic DiFrancesco, The Library’s Community Engagement Strategist
Dominic DiFrancesco enjoyed working in Harrisburg hotel and restaurant sales, but the veteran HYP volunteer longed for work that builds communities.
Then he saw Dauphin County Library System’s opening for a community engagement strategist.
“I wanted community, I wanted to strategize, and I wanted to engage,” he says. “With libraries, you see an economic impact, but on a different level. You’re empowering people to go forth and put their own stamp on things. That’s a great way to grow the city.”
He started the job in March 2020, “just when things started going crazy.” He goes by Nick, helpful in distinguishing him from the two other Dominic DiFrancescos who inspired his zeal for community service – his dad, a former Dauphin County Commissioner, and grandfather, past national commander of the American Legion.
Nick and his wife are the parents of two young boys, and he is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from Penn State Harrisburg.
What has been the role of libraries in your life? My mom was a big proponent of libraries. We went all the time because they had a movie section and a kids’ book section. I remember being excited because The Library had “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and Blockbuster didn’t. When I was studying for my GRE, The Library was a great place to go because I basically had to reteach myself math from seventh grade to college.
Why should Dauphin County residents support The Library? In my short time here, I’ve learned that The Library is very good at taking people’s opinions into account. We’re not telling the community who we are. We’re allowing the community to tell us who they want us to be and then working toward that goal.
What surprises you most about The Library? The scope of its offerings and all the things that The Library touches. Children’s programming. Early education. People experiencing homelessness, empowering them to find jobs. The Library is a third place, that space between work and home. Folks look to us for help. Our job is to say, “Yes, we can,” or “Let us partner with someone who can help.”
What are you reading right now? They put “Hamilton” on Disney+, so my wife and I are kind of book-clubbing the Ron Chernow Alexander Hamilton biography. We both said we need to know more about this guy and wanted to read the source material.
What is your favorite thing when you walk into The Library? I love the architecture of the McCormick Riverfront Library. The staircase outside is gorgeous. Then you walk into this open room with books everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I think the very look of books are esthetically pleasing.