Press release body copy:
HARRISBURG, Pa.— The Dauphin County Library System Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of Rob Lesher as the system’s next Executive Director upon the retirement of current Executive Director Richard Bowra. Lesher will begin on February 22.
Lesher comes to Dauphin County Library System with more than 20 years of library experience, including 12 years as Executive Director of Adams County Library System. After completing his Master of Library Science degree at Syracuse University in 1996, he began working as the Head of Information Services at the Adams County Library System in Gettysburg. Lesher became the Assistant Director of the system in 1998 and was appointed to the top position in 2004. He was responsible for overseeing the construction of the Harbaugh-Thomas Library in Biglerville in 2007 and the expansion of the Branch Library in Littlestown in 2011. In addition, Lesher served as the President of the Pennsylvania Library Association in 2011 and received a Certificate of Merit from the same organization in 2015. Lesher has been a member of the Rotary Club of Gettysburg for 11 years and has served as Treasurer of the club during the last 2 years. He has also served on the Board of Healthy Adams County and Family First Health’s Gettysburg Facility Steering Committee.
Born in Harrisburg, Lesher grew up in northern Dauphin County. “I’m a strong believer in the power of the public library to improve lives, inspire imagination and strengthen community. I am looking forward to returning to the area and taking the reins of this system that has been providing library service for more than 100 years,” said Lesher. “It will be my goal to guide The Library in keeping pace with the many changes that face libraries in the 21st Century.”
Outgoing Executive Director Richard Bowra is retiring after 41 years with Dauphin County Library System – 30 as Executive Director. During his leadership, the system has seen a tremendous amount of change, including the transition to a digital catalog that can be accessed from anywhere. Among the honors awarded to the system during Bowra’s tenure as Executive Director were a John Cotton Dana public relations award in 1988, a Gale Cengage Learning Financial Development Award in 2010 and recognition as Simply the Best Library in 2013 by Harrisburg Magazine.
Under Bowra’s direction, The Library implemented a variety of innovative community services – from expanding early childhood education programming to most recently reinstating an aggressive and creative slate of programs for adults. The system also added more than a hundred computers to its libraries, reflecting the growing importance of technology in society. The system also provides an online “Ask the Librarian” service.
Bowra has led the system through multiple successful capital campaigns which resulted in the building of 3 new libraries and the renovation and upgrade of 4 others. New facilities include Northern Dauphin Library in Lykens, Madeline L. Olewine Memorial Library in uptown Harrisburg and the William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library in Hummelstown. The Elizabethville Area Library, East Shore Area Library in Colonial Park and the historic McCormick Riverfront Library in downtown Harrisburg received major updates to the original structures, and the former Kline Village Branch in Kline Plaza was relocated to a larger standalone facility on 29th Street in Harrisburg. He led the library system through many funding challenges, including a major cut in State library funding in 2003. His close work with Dauphin County Commissioners has resulted in a steady funding source from the county during his tenure.
“I attribute my success at Dauphin County Library System to the dedicated library staff that has remained flexible in the face of change throughout the years,” said Bowra. “These are the committed people who make a difference every day in the communities we serve.”
When asked about his impending retirement Bowra said, “Helping to guide Dauphin County Library System into the 21st Century for the past 30 years has been the most rewarding work of my professional career. With Rob at the helm, I am confident that the system will continue to expand, adapt and continue providing Dauphin County citizens with the best mix of traditional and digital services available.”
Dauphin County Library System provides residents of the county with free access to virtually any materials imaginable, both current and ageless. It has books, movies, music, magazines, online access, people to help with research and programs to help residents of the county grow. The library is the place to satisfy your curiosity. To learn more about The Library visit dcls.org. Getting a card is free -- just bring your driver’s license or other proof of residence to any of the eight DCLS libraries, or register online at dcls.org.
Notes to editors: Photos attached. The following individuals are available for telephone interviews on a limited schedule Rich Bowra, Rob Lesher, Annie Garner, DCLS Board of Trustees selection committee, and Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries. To arrange interviews with Rich Bowra, Rob Lesher or Annie Garner call Christina Lauver at 234-4961 x 114 or 418-2378. To arrange an interview with Commissioner Pries call Amy Richards Harinath at 780-6311.