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If you’re looking for a story of hope and immense luck, meet a dying tree who happened to live in the yard of a former bookbinder and librarian in Idaho. When a 110-year-old cottonwood tree started to die on Sharalee Armitage Howard’s property, she started planning ways to revitalize it post-death.
Howard is also an artist, which led her to the idea of transforming the tree’s stump into a free little library. For the uninformed, a free little library is a small space dedicated to sharing free books with anyone who passes by. The idea is that once someone takes a book, they’ll replace it with one of their own or return the borrowed book once they’ve finished reading it. These libraries usually take the form of a mailbox-like structure, but Howard’s is a massive version of this trend. According to the Little Free Library, you can find versions of the project in 88 countries around the world.
You can find Howard’s free, not-so-little library in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The tree was cut down after a branch fell on a car to reveal a rotting trunk. While you usually can’t fit more than a few books inside a standard free little library, Howard’s is a room big enough to hold not only books, but curious people.
Her library is a work of art, complete with hand-carved shelves and carved mini books that greet you at the door. Howard has shared photos of her work on Facebook, highlighting the exterior view of the trunk, as well as some of the smaller details.