So Much More Than Books

Merrick and Ainsley Schreiber show off the puzzle they finished at the Mary J Barnett Library.

Special to the Times Vedette

February is the month of Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. Even bigger than these events, February is Library Lovers Month. It is unclear if there is a sponsor of Library Lovers Month, but there are a lot of reasons to be a library lover.

Libraries, contrary to popular fallacies, are not obsolete. In fact, the modern public library is more vital and important than ever before. Libraries have moved from being just a place to borrow books to community hubs.

People frequent the public library for many reasons besides checking out books, though that is still an important and vital service we provide. In addition to best sellers, cookbooks, children’s books, graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction books, patrons can check out magazines, DVDs, audiobooks, board games, cake pans, candy molds, video games, puzzles, Wi-Fi Hotspots and more.

In addition to the materials we have on our shelves, library patrons can access books from libraries across the state through SILO loans. Libby (Bridges) is an app that anyone with a library card can download on their devices; with this app, patrons can borrow more than 50 magazine titles, electronic books and audiobooks. Libby provides thousands of children’s, young adult, and adult books of every genre. Readers who use Libby ebooks can adjust the size of the text as well as the light settings. Using audiobooks, patrons can change the playback speed or set a sleep timer. Using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support, audiobooks can be enjoyed in the car. Best of all, Libby (Bridges) is completely FREE to patrons with a library card, which is also free.

Educational opportunities are available at the library. We provide several after-school programs for young people. Working with the Guthrie County Extension, the library provides STEM workshops after school. For young people who enjoy creative opportunities, Boredom Busters provides a chance to make creative projects each month. The next Boredom Busters will meet on Wednesday, March 20 at 3:30 p.m.

The library also provides maker space activities and STEM kits from the library’s STEM cart for use by young patrons. Coloring pages are also always available. We have two educational computers for children as well as iPads for checkout. Nintendo Wii and Nintendo Switch game systems are available for use in the library.

For preschoolers, there is weekly story time each Friday at 10 a.m. Little people and their caregivers can join us for stories and crafts weekly. The library offers an extensive collection of picture books and board books geared toward preschoolers. We also have toys and puppets that can be used in the library.

We have a large number of Vox “Books that Talks” and Wonderbooks available for checkout. These books are books combined with an audiobook. Children may enjoy the audiobook alone or read along with the audio. These require no internet connection, have adjustable volume, and universal headphone jacks. We also have a large selection of Playaway audiobooks in our juvenile fiction section. These self-contained audiobooks run on batteries, require no internet and can be used with headphones or in the car using an auxiliary cord.

In addition, all kids from preschool to eighth grade are invited to participate in our Summer Reading Program during the month of June this summer.

For adults, we offer cribbage each Monday morning from 9-11 a.m. and bridge each Wednesday from 9-11 a.m.. On the third Thursday of each month, the card-making club meets from 9-11 a.m. There is a $5 fee to cover the cost of all the materials. The next class will be March 21. Cookbook Club meets the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Book Club meets the second Tuesday of each month at 3 p.m. The March 12 book, “Killing the Legends: The Lethal Danger of Celebrity” by Bill O’Reilly, is available for checkout.

Lunch and Learn, held the second Wednesday of each month, offers educational information, a light lunch, and social time with other adults. The March Lunch and Learn will be from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, and will feature a presentation by the Farm Bureau.

We offer educational programs for adults also. Our next program will be Tuesday, March 19 at 5:30 p.m. Presented by Living History Farms, this program will be about the history of farming. Pre-registration is appreciated.

Technical support is available with an appointment. We can help with portable devices and apps. The library has computers available to use as well as printing, faxing and laminating services available for a minimal fee.

Friends of the Library meet next on March 5 at 6:15 p.m. This is a great opportunity to get involved in promoting the library and also provides social time. They will be sponsoring a Trivia Night Fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Guthrie Center Activity Center. The catered meal from The Cabbage Rose will be served at 6 p.m., and trivia will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for $35 at the library. Teams may have up to six members. Alcohol will be available for a free-will donation.

Many folks stop into the library just for a change of scenery or to socialize. A jigsaw puzzle is always started; newspapers and magazines are available to read. We have cozy spaces to read or study. Coffee is available, and the Wi-Fi is free.

We are constantly working to add new programs and services for the benefit of our patrons. In 2022, our patrons checked out 7,633 items while in 2023, 9,750 items were checked out from the MJB Library. It seems like patrons love our library. If you haven’t been here in a while, please stop by and see all that we have to offer. After all, it is Library Lovers Month! 

These earnest youngsters are waiting to try out the catapults they constructed during the February STEM activity at the MJB Library.


Using the catapult that she made during the STEM after-school activity, Hadley Knobbe attempts to knock over this pyramid of cups with a Valentine’s Day candy heart.


So Much More Than Books

The storytime craft was making paintings of hearts using a stamp made from a cardboard tube. Some of the stamped paintings were enhanced by finger painting as well.

Special to the Times Vedette

MJB Library is working on adult programs for the upcoming months. Living History Farms will be presenting “The History of Farming in Iowa” on March 19 at 5:30 p.m. Learn how agriculture has evolved over the past several centuries in Iowa, from Native American farmers to 1850s settlers to the golden age of horse-powered farming. Photographs from the museum’s historic working farms will highlight the changes in what was grown on an Iowa farm, what tools and power were necessary, and the impact on farming families. Pre-registration is appreciated. Sign up on the library website or by calling the library.

Habitat for Humanity Home

Heart of Iowa Habitat program, which serves Boone, Greene and Guthrie Counties, is recruiting for a house built in 2025. See the poster on the library bulletin board for additional information. A brochure and application may be picked up from the information shelves in the library’s entryway.

Lunch and Learn

Wednesday, Feb. 14, the Guthrie County Extension Office will be sharing information about their Spend Smart Eat Smart program. The program and light lunch will start at noon. On Wednesday, March 13, the Guthrie County Farm Bureau will be presenting at the monthly Lunch and Learn. The presentation runs from noon to 1 p.m. A light lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is required for both events.

Trivia Night

Friends of the Library will be sponsoring the second annual Trivia Night Fundraiser. Organized to raise money to support the Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library, the event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner catered by the Cabbage Rose followed by trivia at 7 p.m. Trivia Night will be at the Guthrie Center Activity Center. Tickets are on sale now at the library for $35 per person, including dinner and games. Adult beverages will be available for a free-will donation.

Between the Covers

The March book club book will be Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing the Legends: The Lethal Danger of Celebrity.” Book club will meet on Tuesday, March 12 at 3 p.m. Copies are available for checkout.

After School Program

Boredom Busters will meet on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 3:30 p.m. to make some exciting craft projects. All youth are welcome.

Story Time

Preschool Story Time is each Friday at 10 a.m. On Friday, Feb. 16, the theme will be art. R is for Reading will be the topic of the morning on Feb. 23.

Preschool Story Time is each Friday at 10 a.m. On Friday, Feb. 16, the theme will be art. R is for Reading will be the topic of the morning on Feb. 23.

Jerri Hawkins shared her collection of Cherished Teddies and special teddy bears with the MJB Library. The collection will be on loan to the library through February.

The Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library is located at 400 Grand St. in Guthrie Center. Contact us at 641-747-8110 or Visit us online at

So Much More than Books

During February, we have some books and movies reflecting Black excellence in America available for check out.


Special to the Times Vedette

February is Black History Month, which began in 1925 when Carter G. Woodson and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week. Woodson’s intent was to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions to civilization. The event was first celebrated in February 1926 during a week that encompassed the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. During the bicentennial in 1976, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the observation to a month. The theme for 2024 is African Americans and the arts.

MJB Library has several displays to highlight Black History Month. There is a display featuring biographies of Black Americans including Louis Armstrong, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr, to name a few. Additionally, another display focuses on Black authors. The children’s section features displays highlighting civil rights leaders, Black scientists, leaders and athletes, as well as a timeline chronicling the evolution of Black History Month.

Another display at MJB Library highlights the best books from 2023, and another features some of the most popular new releases with our patrons. For those looking for a Valentine’s Day read, we have a display featuring books appropriate for the holiday. Finally, for folks looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a quiet evening at home, check out our display of Valentine’s Day movies.

Trivia Night

Get your teams registered for the second annual Friends of the Library Trivia Night, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Guthrie Center Activity Center. Dinner, catered by the Cabbage Rose, will begin at 6 p.m. followed by trivia at 7 p.m. Teams may be up to eight people. Tickets cost $35 for dinner and trivia and are available at Mary J Barnett Memorial Library.

Clubs and Classes

Lunch and Learn will be Wednesday, Feb. 14, from noon-1 p.m. The Guthrie County Extension office will present information about their Spend Smart, Eat Smart program. Recipes will also be shared. The event will also include a light lunch.

Judi Zimmerline will lead card-making class on Thursday, Feb. 15, from 9-11 a.m. The $5 fee includes all materials needed to create exquisite cards.

Cookbook Club members will be choosing a recipe from Ree Drummond’s newest cookbook entitled “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinner’s Ready.” Members will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15 to share their dishes and to discuss the book.

Boredom Busters will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21 to create an imaginative craft. All youth are welcome to attend.

New Materials

MJB Library has some new movies.  Stop in and check out “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” “Indian Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” “Sound of Freedom”, or “Joe Pickett season 2.”

The Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library is located at 400 Grand St. in Guthrie Center. Contact us at 641-747-8110 or Visit us online at

Stop in to look at the lovely quilt on loan from Jerri Hawkins. While you’re there, grab a book from our Valentine’s Day display or borrow a movie from our Valentine’s Day movie options.

Library events date corrections

Special to the Times Vedette

The Mary J. Barnett Library briefs from Jan. 30 incorrectly stated the dates of two upcoming events. The proper date for the February Book Club is Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m., and the February Lunch and Learn is on Wednesday, Feb 14 at noon. 

Experience some hygge

Special to the Times Vedette

Recently I have been reading about hygge. Hygge is a word used in the Danish and Norwegian languages, and according to Webster’s Dictionary, it is a “cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable. During the long, dark winters when Danes retreat inside their homes, hygge is what brings them a great sense of comfort and joy.”

Maybe as a result of being confined in our homes during the pandemic, or maybe people just long for simplicity, there seems to be a multitude of sources promoting hygge. There are books about how to achieve hygge and Facebook pages and magazine articles promoting hygge in one’s daily life. Candlelight and fires, cozy warm drinks and snuggly blankets all are promoted as hygge things. Ultimately, though, it seems hygge is about creating a warm atmosphere and spending good times with good people, making time to slow down and enjoy things in life that bring joy.

Although hygge is something that one does year-round, we often think of it during weather like we have been enjoying the past couple of weeks. During the winter, when it is dangerously cold and the snow drifts so high we are forced to stay inside, it can be a time to enjoy hygge. Should you be looking for ways to create hygge in your life right now, the Mary J Barnett Library can help you out with this.

One of the most hygge things for me is to curl up with a warm blanket, a mug of hot tea, and a good book. While hygge is different for everyone, we have such a wide selection of books that you will be able to find something that feels like a comforting thing to read. Many people enjoy a genre of books called cozy mystery — crime novels that keep violence, sex and cursing to a minimum. These mysteries are often light, infused with some humor, and generally feel comforting to read. A couple of new cozy mysteries at MJB Library include “Death by Foodtruck” and JoAnne Fluke’s “Pink Lemonade Cake Murder.”

For others, rereading childhood favorites, or sharing favorite books from our youth is very hygge. The “Little House on the Prairie” books, “Harry Potter,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “Peter Rabbit,” “Winnie the Pooh,” or “The Wind in the Willows” are feel-good books.

If current best-sellers are a source of hygge, we have that covered, too. “Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett, “The Villa” by Rachel Hawkins, “The River We Remember” by William Kent Krueger, “The Housemaid” by Frieda McFadden, “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell” by Robert Dugoni, “Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel” by Shelby Van Pelt are some new books that have been flying off our shelves. “Oath and Honor: a Memoir and a Warning” by Elizabeth Cheney is a popular nonfiction book for anyone missing the political scene.

For those who like to curl up and thumb through a magazine, MJB Library has a great selection available for checkout. People, Consumer Reports, Quilter’s World, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Sports Illustrated, and Family Handyman are a few of the many options the library offers.

If cooking is hygge for you, we can help with that, too. In addition to Taste of Home Magazine, we have several new cookbooks including “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinner’s Ready” by Ree Drummond and Winemakers “Guide to Winemaking.” For those who are eager to be able to garden, check out “Vegetable Gardening Made Simple” by Resh Gala.

Another aspect of hygge is spending time with people who bring us joy. Family game night could be a lot more fun with some different board games; stop in and peruse our collection of games available to check out. While you’re here, take a minute to look at our jigsaw puzzles that can be checked out, too.

Winter is a good time to catch up on what’s out on DVD. MJB Library has a fairly extensive collection of movies and popular series.  We have the “Yellowstone,”  “1883,”  ”1923,”  “George and Tammy” and “Tulsa King” series. We have everything from “A Man Called Otto” to “Cocaine Bear.” “Silent Night in Algona” is a new movie based on a true story set in Algona in 1944. The story centers around an injured farmer who comes up with a plan to save the corn harvest by using German POWs. The story is relevant to modern times in that the story illustrates that despite our differences, people of all backgrounds are really very similar.

The MJB Library also has an ongoing book sale if you’d like to shop for reading material or if you want to use old books for craft projects.

MJB Library is a very hygge place for people who are tired of being home and want a cozy getaway for a bit. Stop in, get a cup of coffee, and sit next to our fireplace and read the newspaper or put a puzzle together.

Cookbook Club

Stop in and choose a recipe from this month’s selection “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinner’s Ready” by Ree Drummond. The Cookbook Club will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15. Bring your prepared dish to share with the group.


Lunch and Learn

Be sure to pre-register for the Wednesday, Feb. 14 Lunch and Learn presented by the Guthrie County Extension Office. Meghan will be highlighting the Spend Smart, Eat Smart program and also will share some recipes including a Valentine’s Day snack. A light lunch will be served; the event will last from noon until 1 p.m.

After School Programs

Guthrie County Extension will be presenting a STEM program after school on Monday, Feb. 12 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. In addition to reading a story, the program allows participants to build a catapult to try to knock down a structure. Boredom Busters will meet on Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. to make a craft project.


Trivia Night

The second annual Friends of the Library Trivia Night will be Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Guthrie Center Activity Center. Tickets are $35 per person and include dinner catered by The Cabbage Rose, as well as the trivia entry fee. Team sizes can be up to eight people. Stop in the MJB Library today to register your team and buy tickets. You will not want to miss this fun evening.

These are snowman jar projects from the January Boredom Busters after-school programs. Boredom Busters is open to young people who want to make creative projects. They meet monthly from 3:30-4:30 p.m. The next workshop is Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Attention students who have an interest in STEM

Special to the Times Vedette

Future Engineers is offering contest opportunities to students of all ages. The first opportunity is Power to Explore Radioisotope Power Systems. This contest is open to K-12 students. Sign up for the challenge (it’s free), learn about nuclear “batteries” that power space exploration, and dream up a new space mission. Everyone who submits an entry will be able to attend a virtual event with NASA. Applicants are also eligible to win a trip to NASA and a NASA prize pack. Teachers can sign up an entire class. For more information, go to Entry deadline is Feb. 9.

The other STEM opportunity is Battelle Climate Challenge. This is open to students in grades 9-12. Submit an entry and you could win a $5,000 STEM grant, a trip to the Climate Resilience Conference in Washington, D.C., and a sustainable prize pack. Sign up for the challenge, develop a proposed action to help build a more resilient community at: Entries must be submitted by Feb. 2.