A librarian transforms a 110-year-old dead tree into a free community library neighbourhood

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In our fast-paced, interconnected world, where information is readily available at our fingertips, there is something truly magical and essential about books. They offer a unique experience, allowing us to immerse ourselves in literary fiction and indulge in the art of slow, deep reading. While the digital age tempts us to skim and scroll, the rewards of reading books go far beyond mere information. Books nurture critical thinking and empathy, skills increasingly scarce in our society. Recognizing the importance of preserving our innate love for books, the nonprofit organization Little Free Library has inspired a passion for reading, building communities, and sparking creativity through neighbourhood book exchanges worldwide.

The Little Free Library initiative has gained momentum, with these charming literary havens sprouting up in various corners of the globe. They have established over 75,000 libraries across 88 countries, ensuring that the joy of reading remains accessible to all.

Among the many remarkable Little Free Libraries, one is exceptional. Located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, this enchanting library was brought to life by Sharalee Armitage Howard, a librarian, artist, and former bookbinder. Howard’s ingenious idea transformed a dying 110-year-old cottonwood tree stump into a whimsical literary sanctuary known as the ‘Little Tree Library’.

Rather than uprooting and destroying the old cottonwood tree stump, Howard decided to honour its history and repurpose it. The stump, which had been dropping massive branches onto the sidewalk and street, posed a safety concern for the community. Respecting the tree’s longevity and its risks, Howard opted to breathe new life into it, ensuring its legacy lived on. With her creative vision, she transformed the stump into a beautiful work of art that doubles as a functional library.

The Little Tree Library is a testament to Howard’s artistic flair and book love. Carved out from the inside, the stump now features a charming shingled roof, a vintage window-turned-door, and decorative dentil moulding made from faux wooden books. Step inside, and you’ll discover a cozy interior with shelves filled with actual books. The library exudes a fairytale-like ambience, captivating the hearts of visitors, young and old alike.

Since its creation, the Little Tree Library in Coeur d’Alene has captured the attention of both local and national media, drawing visitors eager to explore its literary treasures. Howard’s passion for bookbinding and community art initiatives shines through in this project. Her work often incorporates recycled materials, demonstrating her commitment to sustainability. Additionally, she actively engages in teaching children the art of bookmaking, utilizing creativity as a means to address humanitarian causes. Howard aims to bring joy to children and adults through the Little Free Library, reigniting their love for reading and allowing them to be transported by the magic of literature.

In a world increasingly dominated by technology and instant gratification, preserving the joy and significance of reading books is vital. With its worldwide movement, Little Free Library encourages communities to embrace the love of reading, foster connections, and ignite creativity. The Little Tree Library in Coeur d’Alene exemplifies the transformative power of books and the ability to turn forgotten spaces into magical realms of imagination. Let us embark on this literary journey, one page at a time, and rediscover the immense rewards within a book’s pages.

So, why visit a Little Free Library near you today, pick up a book, and let yourself be swept away by the wonders of literature?

Remember, the magic of books awaits you.


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