Stump of 110-Year-Old Tree Gets Converted Into a Magical Mini-Library

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There’s always something so tragic about cutting down old neighborhood trees. Even when you understand logically that a once-mighty oak is diseased or dying, and would present a threat to neighborhood houses and people if it were to be left standing, taking it down is still sad. The sight of a massive stump standing where a beautiful tree once spread its branches and provided shade and beauty could drive one to despair. But not Sharalee Armitage Howard, a local artist, bookbinder, and former librarian from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

She Had a Vision

When her family was forced to cut down a 110-year-old cottonwood tree, Howard decided that rather than trying to eradicate the stump completely and cover up the area, pretending that the grand tree never existed, she would honor the tree instead by making something of beauty out of what it left behind.

A Special Project


Working with the Free Little Library organization, Howard decided to carve a little mini-library into the stump, where neighbors could take and leave books and continue to enjoy the beauty of the tree even after it had passed on. Here’s the happy end result!

The Before Picture…

Here’s how the tree used to look in Howard’s yard before disease and rot affected it to the point where it had to be removed. It was a sad day for the family to have to say good-bye to the tree that had provided shade and a place for neighborhood kids to play, but Howard was determined to make something beautiful out of the tragedy.

…And After!

The Little Free (Tree) Library

What a cozy-looking little nook has resulted from Howard’s work! With its warm, inviting lights and jaunty little roof, the mini-library looks like a place where a hobbit might put up his hairy feet by the fire, and enjoy his pipe along with a bit of reading on a snowy winter’s day.

Behind Door Number One…

The Little Free (Tree) Library

Howard’s mini-library is just as inviting in the sunlight. She was inspired by the good people at Little Free Library, who began in 2009 to create mini-neighborhood libraries in order to encourage reading, help build communities, and inspire learning.

Stairway to Learning

The Little Free (Tree) Library

Here’s Sharalee’s mini-library still as a work in progress, as she sets the stone stairs in place and clears away the vegetation around the base of the tree stump.

A Magic Door

The Little Free (Tree) Library

The library’s charming little door invites passers-by to check out what’s on the shelves. There are titles that rotate and shift depending on what community members donate and what they borrow.

Incredible Eye For Detail

The Little Free (Tree) Library

One adorable little touch Howard added was this row of wood-carved faux-books lining the mini-library’s upper edge. Each one is lovingly carved with a classic book title, motivating visitors to explore other books that may not be in the library that day.

Hey, There ARE Hobbits Here!

The Little Free (Tree) Library

The title of the beloved Tolkien classic is one of the “books” used in creating the trim.

Where the Wild Things Are

The Little Free (Tree) Library

While Sharalee would have preferred to still have the grand old tree overlooking her home, she feels that at least its memory can not only continue to provide beauty of another kind, it can also help foster learning and create a sense of community that everyone in the neighborhood can be proud of.

Take a Book, Share a Book

The Little Free (Tree) Library

Howard thanks the Little Free Library people for providing the inspiration to help her honor the memory of her beloved 110-year-old tree. But she has no doubt created one of the most original, eye-catching versions of the 75,000 mini-libraries the organization has registered, delighting people in Coeur d’Alene and around the world!

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