Little Free Library at Catherwood encourages youths to read

Published 8:02 am Wednesday, July 7, 2021

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It’s a work of art. 

The Little Free Library standing in front of Catherwood Child Care is a perfect replica of the facility it’s modeled after and it’s filled with imagination.

It’s easy to see why Rollie Hanson, the retired carpenter who built the library, would be proud.

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“I kind of admire it,” Hanson said with a wry smile. In total, Hanson estimates he’s made about five or six of the unique libraries and this one is the crown jewel, created with intimate detail to reflect Catherwood itself.

The notion of the Little Free Library itself isn’t a new one. The stands placed at various parts of the community are filled with books that people can retrieve at any time.

People can also replace the books they take with a different book in a form of paying it forward.

But what make’s Hanson’s libraries different is the care he takes and his eye for detail.

“I like to personalize things for people,” Hanson said. “I always like the challenge. I’m a retired carpenter and I love the challenge.”

This challenge began a couple months ago with a former employee coming to Laurie Sauer, program coordinator for Catherwood, with the idea. This employee just happened to be the next door neighbor of Hanson, who has a Little Free LIbrary standing in his own yard complete with a bench for people to sit and read their new finds.

The Little Free Library in fron to Catherwood Child Care has an amazing amoung of detail to give it a realistic feel. Eric Johnson/

“It would be awesome,” Sauer remembered saying.

Hanson was quick to jump on board and took pictures of the building itself as a reference. The challenge was its unique look including a rounded section of the roof that Hanson replicated on the library from one piece of metal.

He worked on and off for three weeks to get the project completed and with the help of retired Riverland Community College carpentry instructor and next door neighbor Walt Alms, placed the library on a sturdy stand in front of Catherwood.

The library is big as Little Free Libraries go, complete with two floors.

“Over 100 books at least,” Sauer estimated.

But more than the books, it’s an opportunity. Sauer loves the idea of the library in front of the house.

“I love to look out the window and see one of my kids run out and grab a book,” Sauer said. “It makes my heart so happy. It’s a great asset to Catherwood and the community.”

“I’m so happy he made it for us,” Sauer added. “We’re just so very proud of it and I want the community to use it.”