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


Dauphin County Library System to partially reopen 4 locations June 5

Harrisburg, PA – With precautions in place to ensure the safety of members and staff, the Dauphin County Library System plans to partially open four locations on Friday, June 5, as part of a phased reopening.

The first libraries scheduled for reopening are:

• 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.

In keeping with the precautions called for under Pennsylvania’s yellow phase, limited numbers of members at any given time can enter the buildings only to use the computers, which have all been repositioned to ensure social distancing. Members can also order books and other materials online and arrange for curbside pickup.

“As we reopen, The Library is focusing on the safety of the public and our staff,’’ said Karen Cullings, The Library’s executive director. “We ask that all visitors wear masks, and all locations will have masks available for those who need them. We request everyone’s patience as The Library works to maintain a safe environment while delivering vital services.”

Cullings said the reopening plan prioritized computer accessibility since, for many members, The Library is their only resource for internet services. Free Wi-Fi, available outside at all locations since the lockdown began March 13, will remain accessible.

As conditions allow, additional library locations will partially reopen. All programs will continue to be offered only online through The Library’s website and Facebook page, Cullings said.

To ensure everyone’s safety, computer use is limited to one hour per session and stations will be thoroughly sanitized after each use. Designated areas, with appropriate social distancing, have been set aside only for laptops provided by The Library for onsite use.

During this limited reopening, members wanting to check out items may request the materials online – either through BookAdvisor or the online 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 bags. A designated parking area will be available, and members will call the number on the sign, have their information verified, and a staff member will bring the items to them while they remain in their cars.

All borrowed materials need to be returned using the outdoor book drops. While Dauphin County is in the yellow phase, staff cannot accept returns at curbside or in buildings, and The Library is not accepting donated books and other items.

To guard against the coronavirus, The Library will quarantine all returned materials for 72 hours. In addition to the computer stations between use, staff will clean all publicly accessible areas every two hours. Sneeze guards have been installed at all service points.

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 will also use gloves when handling items used by the public and when delivering materials for curbside pickup.

“From providing computers and internet access to educational materials for children unable to go to school, we know the vital role The Library plays in our community,’’ Cullings said. “We are committed to balancing the need to serve the public with our responsibility to keep our members and staff safe.’’

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


Using The Library Online: Social Distancing and Access to Library Resources

Harrisburg, PA – As concerns about COVID-19 (coronavirus) grow, The Library has made the decision to close all eight Dauphin County Library System Libraries for at least two weeks, through March 28. Due dates will be adjusted for all materials currently checked out by library members.

Books may also be returned to book drops located outside each location during this closure.

Practicing social distancing is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of germs. Library members and Dauphin County residents who choose to stay home are encouraged to access library resources online.

Explore The Library’s digital collections of books, audiobooks, magazines, music and movies by visiting dcls.org/ebooks.

A robust collection of research databases is available at dcls.org/databases. These databases can help with homework questions, genealogy research, general medical information, and any topic in-between.

Dauphin county residents without a library card can apply for an online access card by visiting dcls.org/getcard. Online access can be “upgraded” to a full-service card later by visiting any of our eight locations.

Anyone in search of up-to-date information about COVID-19 can learn more about preventative measures, symptom checkers, and updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health by visiting dcls.org/coronavirus.

The Library will continue to monitor and consider recommendations by government and health organizations. If necessary, further information about program cancellations, or library closures or reopenings, will be shared on dcls.org, The Library’s social media channels, and with local media channels.