A woman ins Coeur d’Alene, Idaho turned a majestic cottonwood tree trunk into a charming and cozy Little Free Library.
It all started when Sharalee Armitage Howard’s favorite cottonwood tree had to get cut down. She never wanted to hear the buzzing sound of chainsaws having at it, but the 110-year-old tree started becoming a hazard to her home. The decision wasn’t taken lightly. Sharalee and her family had started seeing the demise of the tree 10 years ago. Once one of the branches crashed through her sons car, she knew the time had come to cut it down.
Instead of just cutting it down completely, she decided to use the opportunity to create a unique Little Free Library.
When interviewed by the Washington Post about her creative decision, she said, “I really hated to get rid of that tree – it had such curb appeal. But the core had been rotting for years. When it came time to hollow out the stump for my library, all we had to do was reach in and pull out the soft insides.”
Turning the tree into a library that the entire community could enjoy was a way to console her when it came time to take down the tree. Being someone who works at her local library, she was already in love with books.
Designing the Little Tree Library
When it came to designing her Little Free Library, she made up all the plans on her own. She made sure every detail that she wanted was account for. Everything from the glass French door to the charming lights and interior details. Even the dental molding right above the door is incredibly detailed, being made up of famous book titles like Call of the Wild and The Hobbit.
Sharalee’s neighbors, along with the world, love her enchanting library. Photos of her endeavor have gone viral, which is something that surprised her at first. “I’m shocked at how many people I’ve heard from these past several months. It’s really caught on, maybe because it crosses over into a lot of different passions: nature, books, libraries and people who just appreciate community projects.”
Her little library is hardly the first free community library situated on someone’s front yard, with 80,000 such libraries being created within over 90 countries since 2009. The principle the Little Free Library is founded on is simple: Take a book, return a book.
Sharalee says that hundreds of regular lenders and lendees have been coming to her tree library, which has made for a continuous new stock of titles. What started out as just a few dozen books has now turned into hundreds of books coming in and out of this Little Free Library.
“It’s interesting to see what kind of books people add to the shelves. I love that even the most obscure titles end up in somebody’s hands.”
Sharalee’s tree library goes to show us that there is creative opportunity and possibility everywhere, even in situations which seem like they are unfortunate endings. These can lead to new beginnings. When it comes to Sharalee’s cottonwood, it’s magnificent limbs may be gone, but trunk stands as an incubator of mind voyages through the books housed within it.