The enchanting tree library is a wondeful way to preserve one's love for reading.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 20, 2021. It has since been updated.
Technology may have advanced so much that you may think books are obsolete, but think again. There's something enchanting about getting lost in the pages of a book you can hold, smell, and touch. And how magical would it be to get (read: free) books in a 110-year-old tree!? Sharalee Armitage Howard watched a dying 110-year-old cottonwood tree in front of her Idaho home slowly dropping dead branches on her flower gardens and sidewalk. The librarian, artist, and former bookbinder decided to give the stump a new lease of life—she turned it into a "little tree library."
“Someone willing to take the time to give new life to a stump would never cut down a healthy tree to do it,” Howard told Bored Panda. “It was dropping HUGE branches for years onto the sidewalk and street (even without windy weather). We were really worried about someone getting hurt. One finally hit our son’s car. The average lifespan of a cottonwood tree is merely 40-50 years… so it got to live more than twice that already!”
This woman turned her tree stump into a Little Free Library fit for magical elves. It went viral. https://t.co/P1KYv0FwGW— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 1, 2019
According to The Washington Post, the mother-of-four did not want to destroy the tree but she and her husband, Jamie Howard, paid about $5,000 for a tree removal company to slowly take it down one section at a time. "I really hated to get rid of that tree — it had such curb appeal,” she said. “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." Then she decided to create a Little Free Library, she explained, after she made one for a school fundraising auction (with a different design) two years ago. The Little Free Library movement aims to promote literacy and community with one common principle: 'Take a book, return a book.' The first Little Free Library was built by the late Todd Bol in Hudson, Wis., in 2009. Howard’s (free and tree) library is part of a network of more than 80,000 of them across the United States and 91 countries.
The library features stone steps leading to a tiny glass French door, a hanging lantern, shelves, and a peaked roof. The cozy interiors and the outdoor lightings make it look like it's straight out of a fairytale book! The enchanting library is also self-sustaining and the artist pretty much leaves it alone. "It's interesting to see what kind of books people add to the shelves,” she said. “I love that even the most obscure titles end up in somebody's hands." But what stands out about this tree library according to Margret Aldrich, a spokeswoman for the Little Free Library nonprofit organization, is that it's raised the "wow" factor. "We love every detail of it, from the inviting green door to the warm lighting inside and out. Sharalee has created a truly magical experience that will inspire readers of all ages. She went above and beyond with her not-so-little cottonwood tree library," she said. Added Howard, “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.”