Idaho resident Sharalee Armitage Howard, who has worked as a librarian, a bookbinder and an artist, had a stroke of genius when the 110-year-old cottonwood tree outside her home in the city of Coeur d’Alene was on its last legs. This lightbulb moment led to the creation of a magical and highly unique library right out of a storybook. Her hope? That anyone who passed it by would admire it and, of course, use it as a source of literary inspiration as well. What Howard never could’ve predicted, though, was what a large impact such a little library could have. Following her initial post on Facebook, the project went instantly viral, reaching audiences across the country and beyond.
The Tree of Renewed Life
The tree used for this breathtaking project had been standing tall and strong for over a century in the lawn of her residential home, slowly deteriorating. When a branch fell and damaged her son’s car, Howard knew it was time for a change.
And so, the rotting innards were removed and the ambitious passion project began. With a shingled roof, exterior carvings, an outside lamp, and a little door accessed by walking up a short path of stone steps, the final product turned out to be quite the spectacle for book lovers far and wide, who went out of their way to pay the little library a visit. Howard, who was interviewed by The Washington Post, took a guess at why the library has been so successful: “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.” Whether it be for a love of community, a passion for books, or just an appreciation for design, this gorgeous library appeals to the masses.
A Little Library Movement
While Howard’s library is certainly one-of-a-kind, it’s a part of a larger non-profit movement called the Little Free Library. This non-profit organization, founded in 2009, has a mission of spreading a love of books and reading by way of a shared community space for people to discover new texts and leave old ones behind for someone else to enjoy. A map to all the Little Free Libraries located in North America and beyond can be found on their website.
The Social Buzz
With over 12,000 shares, Howard’s initial Facebook post has seen 12,000+ comments from all those who marvel at the picture-perfect, hobbit-like hole of a library. There’s really next to nothing negative to say about it, and the overwhelmingly supportive comments certainly reflect that.
“I’m in love! This is magical!” – Don Ackerman
“As a book lover and writer, this tree is now my Happy Place. Thank you! <3 Cheers from Canada!” – Denise Sevier-Fries
“This stands for everything good in life. I see it as Art making our world more beautiful. One book that belongs in this library is, The Hobbit. Smiles to you Sharalee 🙂 ” – Mark Holloway
“That may be the single most brilliant design I’ve ever seen. Bravo!” – Brian Paris
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