Celebrating the Holidays, Library Style!

2:57 PM 3 Comments A+ a-

We are big Pinterest fans in my library and before the holidays, we were busy thinking about cool ways to ramp up our winter decorations. Our artificial garland had been around for ten years and was just limply phoning it in - even the tartan wired ribbon had lost its brogue. So when we stumbled upon book tree examples, we knew we had to make our own.

A lot of book tree creators wrap their books with a solid color paper or use books of a series that are the same color and size for ease of stacking (way to use those old solid green tax codes, librarians!). Most of them appeared to be green, but I thought red would be far more festive, so I hunted up books with spines in a shade of red that came from topics not likely to be used for research this time of year (we are in the midst of World Civ and U.S. History term papers, but they have a limit on how modern the topic can be). Modern China and the feminism section of the 300s yielded major dividends, so I pulled those and plenty of others so I had a nice smorgasbord of red to choose from.

Students, eager to procrastinate help, leapt on my spreading out over a hundred books around the table (I wasn't sure I could support a full book tree). I was happy to supervise, and we decided to separate out the books by size and width to insure stability and I think our STEM program would have been impressed with the degree of physics utilized to make this happen. We did a nice stack, taking about an hour and half to complete it. It took us until the next day to figure out how to top it, but we finally saw a close up picture of the smaller books stacked to a point. Some awesome gold sparkle mistletoe picks from Joann Fabrics, our leftover lights from a decade ago and a huge gold bow and we were in business!

But we got ambitious, and before I knew it we had the fake snow with donated little houses (one of them a book shop) nestled underneath. The kids visiting the library each day LOVED the tree and when we were looking at other book trees and comparing them unfavorably to our wonderful tree, we saw a picture of a book fireplace and the race was on.

Our bound National Geographic magazines stretch back to the 1920s and the bindings are in varying shades of red, just like bricks! To offer the right about of stability to the stacking, we did two rows of books on each side, sliding in a piece of black foam core to emulate the inside of a fireplace. I got a perfect piece of stiff foam at Joann's for under $10 (we used this to measure the distance of the books for the fireplace) and I covered it with a couple yards of cheap red felt, secured with quilting pins. A three dollar red sparkle bow, also secured with pins, polished up the mantle into a showpiece and I had to get a little doormat that looked like a carpet at Kmart. It was perfect for our menorah, and I love the feature of the kraft paper wrapped books for logs and with the construction paper flames coming out of them (a good use for a few reference discards).

Around this time, we discovered that some of our playful colleagues decided to have a department Christmas tree contest, so we pitted our tree against the development, admissions, class deans, and college guidance departments. Once a prize was in our sights, I'll confess we got a leetle competitive, perhaps urged on by the cheeky smack talk from our colleagues (ahem, class deans!). We made letters from famous authors writing as children to Santa (J. D. Salinger, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, and Samuel Clemens) using characteristics of those authors.

We won the contest and our kids were SO proud of the display and made a point of dragging other students over to see it if they hadn't been in the library for a day or two. When I went to our main school building to hear the results of the contest, the kids knew that the day of reckoning had come - I didn't realize they were all lingering in the library to hear who had won after school. When I walked in with the trophy (a spray painted ugly tree from Goodwill that will now be our Stanley Cup equivalent in years to come), the whole library broke out into spontaneous cheering! We even made a triumphal video (only available to Facebook users since it's so embarrassing how we are hamming it up dancing to "Eye of the Tiger").

I'm already thinking (and pinning ideas) about what we can do next year. This was such a fun "before holiday break" activity at a time when we most need a little focus and lift in the school year.


Write comments
January 22, 2013 8:43 AM delete

The holiday displays with books are fabulous, Courtney! Liz Burke

December 18, 2013 10:41 AM delete

You inspire me with your creativity. We did a really tall book tree (almost 5') one year, but did not try again as everyone wanted to play Jenga with it. This year we made a table top version with green books open and stacked on top of each other. Wonder what next year will bring.........

molly wetta
December 18, 2013 7:13 PM delete

the fireplace is so cute! Great idea.