Photo Credit: GAZETTE PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - Kes Rooney, who designed and built an outdoor bookstand outside the Bethlehem House of Bread that will become part of the Little Free Library system, reads a childhood favorite, 'The Best Nest,' during the July 31 dedication ceremony.The Bethlehem House of Bread in Metzger has been nurturing families since it opened in November 2013 by starting up a food bank for qualified families, teaching nutrition classes, providing outdoor raised beds for families to grow their own vegetables, and offering a teen program to teach teenagers about growing plants from seeds and raising vegetables.

Now the Bethlehem House of Bread, sited at the former Metzger United Methodist Church and operated as a Pathways ministry of Tigard United Methodist Church, is nurturing minds as well as bodies.

On July 31, a grand opening was held next to the garden for a tiny community library that organizers are working to make part of the Little Free Library organization. Many people donated new and gently used books to the program to help promote literacy and a love of reading.

The concept is simple: People can stop by the site a block from Metzger Elementary anytime and take whatever book or books they want; after reading the books, people are asked to return them or different ones to keep the library stocked.

Credit for starting the project goes to the Beta Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, which is made up of current and former women educators, many of whom worked in the Sherwood or Tigard-Tualatin school districts.

The finished product features a bookstand with a book-and-bird theme: A giant wooden “book” supported by posts has a weather-proof case full of books sitting on top of it. On the binding of the book is written, “To read is to fly,” and two wooden “books” are attached below, with the one on the left showing the date of the grand opening and the one on the right crediting the designer and builder of the bookcase - 2014 Sherwood High School graduate Kes Rooney.

In December 2013, SHS teacher Nancy McCluster, a member of Beta Beta, approached Rooney, who took “every engineering class offered at SHS” and plans to major in engineering at the University of Portland, about the project.

On his own time, Rooney, who was crowned Mr. Bowmen during the annual SHS pageant this past spring that raises funds for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, worked in the SHS engineering department, headed by John Niebergall, to create the design and then moved to the woodworking shop, headed by Jon Dickover, to create the structure out of marine-grade wood to withstand the elements.

“For several months, it was my major commitment,” Rooney said. “I was in the woodshop every day. I had so many ideas, but I ran out of time.’

However, he still plans to maybe add a bird or weathervane to the birdcage bookstand, and once it is approved to be part of the Little Free Library system, a sign will be added to make it official.

Credit also goes to Precision Plastic Fabrication of Sherwood that produced the heavy-duty plastic “windows” of the bird-cage library; Margaret Scaife, who painted the whole structure; and Mia Bartlett, who did the calligraphy and artwork.

Rooney came up with the “To read is to fly” line for the book binding, saying the expression by A.C. Grayling is one of his favorites.

“I wanted to integrate a theme into the book stand and found the quote online,” Rooney said. “I was inspired by it, and that led to the bird theme.”

As part of the grand opening, Rooney, son of Connie and Todd Rooney and whose twin sister, Cambria, also will attend UP, read a book that was first read to his dad before it was read to him, “The Best Nest” by P.D. Eastman. It features a pair of birds who after some trials and tribulations discover that their original nest is the best one to raise their young.

Several people who were gathered for the ceremony recalled how bad the corner of the lot where the bookstand now sits used to look, full of a pile of trash and yard debris with a healthy growth of blackberries over the top.

“There were many work parties here,” said Linda Dove, pastoral director of the House of Bread program. “We also need to feed people’s spirits. This new library is exciting.”

Kris Field-Eaton, active in the House of Bread since before it opened, added, “This is a rebirth of the corner, and we are recycling books.”

Members of the Beta Beta Literacy Committee who worked on the project in addition to McCluster and Scaife, who was Rooney’s third-grade substitute teacher at Archer Glen Elementary, include Pam Rostron, Joann Brinkman and Mary Bell plus Susan Herron, who is credited with coming up with the original idea for the bookstand and is co-chairwoman of the literacy committee with Field-Eaton.

“We’re so thrilled with it,” Field-Eaton told Rooney about the bookstand. “It looks like it is floating. Thank you for making it happen.”

At the end of the ceremony, Rooney was surprised to find himself on the receiving end of a few gifts when he was presented with a leather-bound 1951 copy of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” plus some gift cards and movie tickets.

“This is so ironic, because I was just in the Sherwood Foundation for the Arts’ production of ‘Les Mis’ in July,” said Rooney.

People may donate books to the library by dropping them off at the back door of the Bethlehem House of Bread, 9055 S.W. Locust St., Tigard.

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