With so many children coming in and out of the library with mothers and fathers in tow, the Osage Beach Public Library decided it was time for an upgrade. Alongside the donations of material and time from a number of local businesses and individuals, the children’s area of the library has been transformed into a castle-themed wonderland.

With so many children coming in and out of the library with mothers and fathers in tow, the Osage Beach Public Library decided it was time for an upgrade. Alongside the donations of material and time from a number of local businesses and individuals, the children’s area of the library has been transformed into a castle-themed wonderland.

Library Manager Vicki Moore says that the library had always struggled with children roaming free out of the area because there wasn't an independent doorway blocking it off. To aid this issue, the plan was conceived to build a new wall with a doorway in the center to essentially block off the children’s area with more security. However, Moore and the rest of the library staff didn’t want to put in any old doorway.

To stick with the theme of fantasy and children's fiction, the plan put in place to create a wall in the style of a castle. The idea has been in the works since the beginning of 2019. Zach Sousley, alongside S&S Custom Building, took the project in hand and were able to build a wall that fits directly into the previously open area.

Sousley says that the company donated the labor costs and High Brothers Lumber in Camdenton helped with donations of building materials and drywall finisher. After the design was in place, the building of the wall took just under two weeks. Sousley says that $4,185 of building materials and labor were donated in total.

Once the wall was put up, the project turned to painting the wall and the entire children’s area. For the past three months, Terri Shown was enlisted to paint not only the castle wall with castle windows and other decorations, but also a mural on the inside of the area to encompass the entire four walls.

Shown says that she is in the children’s area a lot working with children and decided that her vision involved lots of color and creativity. Instead of leading inward to a castle themed dungeon with stone and darker colors, Shown decided to open the newly installed doors to the outside of a castle with fantasy and color all around.

As the colors and images came to life, Shown says the overall look began to morph with the influence of the children who helped her day to day, including Adara Hein and Ava Anderson. She says she would ask the children around her what their favorite stories were and use those topics as inspiration. The mural steers away from using any copyrighted material, so many of the chosen subjects are merely resemblances of the characters within.

“I wanted it to feel like you were opening up the doors to a big world,” Shown said.

To create more than just an enclosure for the children within the library, the heavy influence of fantasy themes used to promote reading and creativity. Shown says that she wants children inside the room to feel inspired and to pick up a book inside that they may have never read before.

Moore says she has enjoyed watching kids come into the room and express their amazement at the colors and images within the mural. She says that many first-time visitors have come into the library just to see Shown’s artwork.

Shown says that she was happy to donate the time to paint the mural, which ended up at nearly 170 hours of work. As a mother herself, she says that it was a goal of hers to create a space that children could interact with one another and give the mother or father accompanying them a second to breath without having to keep an eye on them at all times. She says that many people at the lake don’t realize how many young children live here and the needs they have for a space to call their own.

“I think the library can be a place for a community to gather and I have a heart for literature and books,” Shown said. “Being here has opened up a dozen conversations just to talk about books. That’s been very meaningful for me.”