Harford County Public Library revamps children's department, opens story garden, at Aberdeen library

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Sep. 1—A renovated children's department and outdoor story garden opened Wednesday at the Harford County Public Library branch in Aberdeen.

Mary Hastler, the library system's CEO, cut the ribbon at the morning ceremony.

"This renovation makes the branch even more welcoming and accessible for our community and staff," Hastler said during her speech. "We are a library of things and have a long history of innovation and forward thinking."

The story garden will serve as "an interactive learning space for children to explore concepts such as protecting natural resources, creating a clean environment, exploring local, state and national parks, recycling, learning the importance of clean water and more," according to a news release.

Inside the library, there are a variety of activities and installations in the new children's department, including a 3D printer, nursing chairs and a patch of lifelike steel-crafted trees.

Hastler said the renovated children's department aims to promote STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math), as well as literacy and social skills.

Some renovations also were made to the adult section of the library, including updated furniture and increased square footage after the removal of bulkheads.

"Libraries aren't quiet anymore," Hastler told The Aegis. "We are a hubbub of activity all the time."

The work on the project, which was completed in July, began in 2019 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hastler said the total cost of the project was $520,000. Funding was partially provided by the Morris A. and Clarisse B. Mechanic Foundation, a BGE Green Grant and the Friends of the Aberdeen Library. Additional funding was received from the Aberdeen community, friends and supporters of Harford County Public Library.

A handful of local officials also came to the opening, including Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, his advisor Billy Boniface, Harford County Council President Patrick Vincenti and council members Robert Wagner, Curtis Beulah and Chad Shrodes, and Del. Steve Johnson.

Wagner, who represents Aberdeen, applauded the recent work done at the Aberdeen library over the last few years.

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"Anything we can do to promote earlier education for them and provide the services and the education they need to move forward, we're all about," Wagner said.

Shrodes shared similar sentiments: "All towns, villages and cities deserve to have a nice library as a community center."

Glassman praised the revamped department and how it will help children "succeed in their later years, not only in school, but in life as lifelong readers and learners in Maryland."

He noted the ribbon-cutting was a "warmup" to the upcoming revamped library in Darlington, where Glassman lives. Hastler estimates the Darlington branch will be ready around mid-October.

Hastler said the new building will be around 4,000 square feet and have an agricultural farming theme. It will also have a pavilion, an outdoor fireplace and hitching posts.

The building was formerly a bank, which the county and the library system purchased about 1 1/2 years ago, according to Hastler. The Darlington branch has been in a modular building for about 12 years, Hastler said.