The Library is another opportunity for learning.

David Volkman was 12 years old, and not much of a reader or writer, when he was idled by an accident leaving him with a broken arm and lacerated leg. He was bored, and his mother suggested they go to the library.

“Really?” he thought. But he discovered a series of books on famous Americans. He picked up the Babe Ruth biography, and then, he says, “I read and read and read.”

“From then, I enjoyed reading,” he says. “I enjoyed writing, and I did better in school.”

In fact, Volkman made education his career. The retired superintendent of Susquehanna Township School District is now special assistant to the Pennsylvania secretary of education. He also serves on The Library’s Your Place to Belong campaign advisory council. His support for the project consolidating McCormick Riverfront Library and Haldeman Haly House next door includes a donation naming the Help Desk.

“I got involved in this project because I thought about all my work in a very diverse school district and all my work so close to Harrisburg,” he says. “When campaign co-chair Susan Anthony called me, I said, ‘We need to help kids.’ This is going to be within reach of the people of this community, and I want kids to have that opportunity.”

Why does a community need strong libraries in addition to schools? It’s another opportunity for learning. I really believe that the connectivity between libraries, families, and communities is essential. It is the one place where you can go that is an accommodating factor for everybody. It’s the great leveler, whoever you are, whether you’re rich, you’re poor, whoever you happen to be. You go to The Library, and it’s a place you feel comfort. It’s a place you learn. And it’s a way you can take the knowledge you learn and share it outside The Library, so you help your community grow.

Coming from leadership of a diverse school district, what do you think of The Library’s use of the expanded space for community dialog around social and racial justice and history? When you talk about equity, inclusion, and belonging, libraries are central to that. That whole idea of the inclusion piece and the belonging piece, when you go to The Library, you’re no different than anybody else there, but you’re probably going to learn something that will help you.

What do you think of the physical expansion and renovations? Isn’t it wonderful? The historic aspect is terrific. It’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful addition to the community.