As an avid reader, I love all things related to books. So when I saw a photo of Sterling Heights Public Library’s Christmas tree made of books while I was surfing Facebook one morning, I got super excited. I immediately shared its photo on my book club’s online page and decided this was for sure something cool that the Make Macomb Your Home blog needed to highlight. To some, it may seem silly, but to me (and I’m sure others), it’s beautiful! It’s something that makes Macomb County unique, and I think anything that gets our children (and adults!) into our local libraries is a good thing.
According to Jason Groth, public relations and programs coordinator for the library, the tree has actually been a holiday mainstay at the library the last three years (so I guess I’m a little late to the party!).
“In mid-2014, several staff members saw examples of a book tree at various online sources. One person saw it in a library magazine (possibly ALA Direct, but she can’t remember), another was emailed a picture by a friend, and yet another saw an example on Pinterest,” described Groth. “Everyone agreed that it was [a] neat, library-related alternative to the classic Christmas tree we usually put up. The first book tree went up in December of 2014. Patrons loved the tree, so it’s become an annual decoration.”
Staff members Catherine Les and Joseph Vitale built the tree in a little over four hours on a Friday morning before the library opened for business. The tree, which stands 5 feet tall and is 4 and a half feet wide, was created with an inner core of cardboard boxes stuffed with 30 books for stability. The outside of the tree is then made up of 330 books layered around the boxes to complete the look.
“Size and weight were given priority for books near the bottom,” said Groth, describing what books were used in the making of the tree. “We wanted a solid foundation! As the tree grew in height, color and shine became increasingly more important than weight.”
Groth said every book used was donated to the library by patrons. He added once the tree is taken down, all the books will be available for purchase in the Used But Sterling Bookstore. All proceeds from the sale of those books will go back to the library.
The book tree provides many other advantages for the library.
“It … draws attention to Used But Sterling Bookstore. Many patrons approach our staff wanting to buy a particular book on the tree,” said Groth. “Finally, it’s just downright cool. Patrons enjoy our fun, artistic displays year-round, and the book tree is really just an extension of that day-to-day creativity.”
Sarah Cormier works for the Macomb County Executive Office as a communications specialist.