Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 25, 2017

The Cottonwood Church builds Wayland’s first little free library

By John Butters | Apr 20, 2017
Photo courtesy of Dave Sutherland


WAYLAND—Despite the ever-present electronic devices surrounding us, most of us think children should read books and believe that books can make a difference in a child’s life.

Many of us also believe that libraries are important and that children should visit them. And if they won’t or can’t, then we should bring the library to them.

Nancy Sutherland, pastor of the Cottonwood United Methodist Church in Wayland, was inspired by her bishop to do just that. She has a plan to put books in the hands of the children of Wayland without cost or travel.

“Our bishop’s goal for the state of Iowa was to change a child’s story,” Sutherland said. “Books can do that. Reading helps them see the world from different aspects. It helps them to get on in school and in life. It can be the start of a lifelong habit.”

To achieve that goal, Sutherland, with her husband Dave and friend Tim McConnell, built a Little Free Library in a replica of the Cottonwood Church. They and their church will fill it with books and set it in concrete outside the church.

Everyone is welcome to visit the little library and take a book or leave a book, she said. Library patrons can keep the book they take, or return it and take another: no forms to fill out, no questions asked.

Sutherland said the library will contain a variety of books for both children and adults.

The little free libraries are sprouting around the area. Both Kalona and Washington have placed them in strategic locations.

A nonprofit organization, Little Free Library recently counted 15,000 little libraries containing 1.6 million book around the world. For a small fee, a little library can be registered with the nonprofit. The foundation’s goal is to promote literacy and the love of reading by providing free book exchanges worldwide.

Sutherland said her church might place more libraries around Wayland and that she is planning to put one outside her home in Winfield. The libraries are an expression of her deep-seated faith in the power of the printed word.

“There are drawbacks to relying only on our electronic devices. People use them for only the things they want to see. They tend to use them for entertainment purposes,” she said.

The Cottonwood Church’s little library is an effort to reaffirm the value of reading and make a difference in the lives of children and adults. It’s a statement that paper and ink still have a place in the world.

To formally open their library, the Cottonwood United Methodist Church is hosting a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting on Saturday, April 22, from 10 to 11 a.m. The church is located at 1069 110th Street near Wayland. Refreshments will be served.

Those attending are welcome to browse the library and if they find a book that intrigues them, take it home for a read.


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