“Everyone deserves a warm welcome and a high-quality learning experience”
Marion Alexander believes that everyone deserves a warm welcome and a high-quality learning experience. The foundation she has with her husband, Bill Alexander, is devoted to that principal.
“We like to support children, and we like to make sure that those who don’t have the resources have the opportunity to have something first-class that they can use,” she says.
The Alexander family’s ties to Dauphin County Library System have been transformative. Their major donation and fundraising made possible the 2010 building of the William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library – designed by their son, architect Charles Alexander — in Hummelstown.
Marion is a former Library board chair whose longtime efforts as a volunteer fundraiser continue today with The Library’s Your Place to Belong campaign to expand McCormick Riverfront Library. A $100,000 from the Alexander foundation helped restore and connect the adjacent Haldeman Haly House. Its centerpiece gathering space is now named the William H. & Marion C. Alexander Community Room.
What do libraries mean to you personally? I have absolutely grown up with them. My mother was a marvelous teacher. She had us reading books at a very early age in our home. Going to the library was a treat. I have four children, and I’ve read to all of them.
What need did the library in Hummelstown fill for the community? The old children’s room was downstairs, and there was no way to make it accessible to wheelchairs and walkers. It was not a nice scenario. Now, it’s one of our busier libraries. It has provided a wonderful community base. A lot of my friends from Hershey say they love to come to the Hummelstown library because they love the children’s area. Hummelstown is a railroad town, and my son designed the children’s area with huge picture windows that look out at the trains going by several times a day.
How will children benefit from creation of McCormick Riverfront Library’s children’s area? It has to happen. The children cannot be upstairs where they are. They need to have their own bathrooms, and they need to have their own space. As you can see in the current space, it’s overwhelmed with other persons using it. To have it go downstairs where it originally was, many, many years ago, the children’s area will be separate and will be wonderful. There will be many more programs. It will also be a place where children will be able to speak and not to have to be so quiet.
What are your hopes for the gathering spaces? The community room is going to be fabulous. We will have many businesses using that. Everybody is looking for meeting spaces, and it’ll be an asset to businesses surrounding us and to volunteers. I’m excited.
Why is renovation and expansion meaningful to you and the community? The whole history of Haldeman Haly House is connected to The Library. Ms. Haldeman Haly gave the grounds for the McCormick Riverfront Library. This project is about working with historic restoration and with the partnerships we’ve formed. With the T. Morris Chester Welcome Center, it’s a step to support the Black community and the city of Harrisburg as they try to reclaim their heritage. And there’s our partnership with Dauphin County Human Services, which has helped train our librarians on how to help individuals experiencing homelessness with any issues they may have. The Library is for everyone, and it truly is a wonderful place for everyone to sit down and read and keep up with the news and use the computers. That’s a tremendous asset to the downtown area.