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Spreading the Word and words

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    Courtesy photo Iola Missionary Baptist Church pastor Tim Owens (left) and librarian Crystal Marsh-Arnold (right) receive a donation of two books from local author Alice V. Brock (center) for the church’s library.

IOLA — Churches are known for spreading the Word of God, but one church in Iola is going above and beyond to spread all words. In their recently renovated and enlarged library, the Iola Missionary Baptist Church is allowing church and community members to check out a wide-range of genres for every age group.

Librarian Crystal Marsh-Arnold is looking to provide “a little bit of everything for everybody” in the small church library. She became interested in the church’s library, which had been present for many years, although much smaller, when she first joined the church and was looking for books to help her with the grief of losing a loved one.

“We do exclude some genres, we don’t want books with demons or anything too risqué,” said Marsh-Arnold. “But there are books that help people deal with grief, there are westerns, kid’s books and reference books.”

New additions

The library received two new additions Jan. 21 when local children’s author Alice V. Brock donated the two books in The Will and Buck series, River of Cattle and Murder on the Pecos.

Brock, a retired educator from Iola ISD, has been passionate about western literature and television since she was a small child.

“From the first time my dad brought home a western book, I was in love with cowboys and the horses of the old west,” said Brock.

Will and Buck are a pair of young friends who go through the travails of cattle-drives and the rough and tumble life in the west, surrounded by open countryside and Comanche raids.

“Buck, Will’s best friend in the series, is a buckskin horse. Everyone rode a buckskin, including Matt Dillon,” said Brock. “Boys love cowboys and girls love horses, there is something for everyone, even adults.”

Brock, who has won multiple awards for her work, including the Will Rogers Medallion Award for young readers, is working on the third installment of the series and is looking forward to the continued adventures of the duo.

Check in, check out

As the library continues to grow, Marsh-Arnold and Jeri Hitt are welcoming book donations to continue to expand the reading material available.

“Crystal puts up our newest additions on display and we have a little bit of money in the budget to purchase a few books here and there,” said Hitt. “But the majority of our books come from donations by community and church members.”

When books come into the library, Marsh-Arnold and Hitt sort them into genres and make timely displays for the seasons or holidays.

“We also include our ‘newest additions’ in the church announcements so that people can see what we have and if it interests them,” said Marsh-Arnold.

“There is almost always someone at the church, but locals know how to reach us if they need something right away,” said Marsh-Arnold.

Marsh-Arnold is not going to turn away people who are interested in picking up a good read. There is no limit to how long a book can be checked-out, provided someone else isn’t hoping to read the same one. As the church continues to grow their library, they are hoping to grow the love for reading in their corner of the county.

For more information on how to donate or check-out a book from the Iola Missionary Baptist Church, go to or call 936-394-2701. For more information on Brock’s Will and Buck series or to purchase, go to