Harlan Library opens new Childrens' Play Area

    HARLAN -- The Harlan Community Library recently revamped the children’s area of the library with a rural theme and a new play area.
    The play area, called Monogram Farm, opened to the public last week after nearly three months of construction. The farm includes a silo bookshelf, a play house with a kitchen set and a large barn where children can sit, play and read.
    The play area was funded in part by a grant from the Monogram Loves Kids Foundation. The foundation is sponsored by Monogram Foods, a meat-preparing company with a facility in Harlan.
    The Shelby County Community Chest, a local nonprofit group, also contributed funds to help purchase additional seating for the library’s storytime area.
    The grants funded about 80 percent of the project, and the library general budget covered the rest of the funding.    
    Library director Amanda Brewer said rural farmers have a significant economic impact on Shelby County, and the library wanted to recognize their contributions with the farm design.
    “We wanted something that really spoke to our rural, agricultural community,” Brewer said.  
    Brewer hopes the new play area will give kids a “fun, memorable place” to associate with reading and the library.
    “Our ultimate goal is that it brings more families back into the library and gives the kids a place to play,” Brewer said.
    Brewer said the library has seen a decrease in attendance during the pandemic, but she hopes more people will visit the library following the renovations.
    The library also removed its mask requirement Tuesday, although masks are still encouraged in the building.  
    Brewer said Monogram Farm is a complete transformation from the previous children’s area of the library. She said the library has received a positive reaction from children and families since unveiling the farm.
    “[The kids] are so excited; they just want to go in there and play,” Brewer said.
    Monogram Farm is currently open to the public, but the library still has some final touches they hope to add to the children’s area.
    “Especially when we get the decorations, I think it is going to pull together really nicely,” Brewer said.
    The library also plans to commission a local artist to do murals on the walls near Monogram Farm and “add some whimsy” to the children’s area.
    After completing Monogram Farm, the library plans to continue renovations and improvements.
    “Our next project is redoing the front of the library to install a courtyard area,” Brewer said. “We have a lot of teens, kids and adults who use the front of the library, especially for free wifi access and a safe space to congregate.”
    The library is applying for another Monogram Loves Kids Foundation grant to fund the outdoor project, which they hope to complete by June 2022. Brewer said they hope to add new seating, picnic tables and a pergola to the front of the library.
    “[The Monogram Loves Kids Foundation] is always looking for a way to give back to the community and support youth,” Brewer said. “We’re just really grateful to be able to partner with them.”


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