When a reader wrote to recommend a Christmas tree that “requires absolutely no water and can be broken down and re-used,” I expected the usual fake type involving metal brackets and plastic leaves. But on opening the attachment from a friend of Inglewood Public Library, I discovered the tree in the photograph was clearly made of pulp, which is to say books.
It is the creation of assistant librarian Bri Webber, pictured at right. It has been a hard two years at the Inglewood Public Library, Webber said, and the place had no budget for holiday decorations. So she went online and saw that the library trend of 2011 is to build trees from books. There’s a gorgeous one at Gleeson Library in San Francisco. Even the nearby Loyola Marymount University library had one, she said. “I thought, ‘If LMU can do it, we can do it.’”
Moreover, Webber swiftly recognized which books were being used in most of the examples. They were the suitably green-bound National Union Catalog, volumes listing books recorded by the Library of Congress. "I thought, 'I know exactly what those books are and nobody uses them and they’re dusty and this way they’ll be used.' "
After finding different years and different volumes, she used red books for the skirt. By the end, she lost count of how many catalogs she stacked up on the ground floor near the elevator. “It’s in the high 300s,” she said, laughing that once she lost track, they couldn’t have a contest to guess how many books were in the tree.
Given that cuts have reduced what had been a staff of about 70 to something like 30, Webber said, it's a wonder that she found the spirit to do the tree at all. “Times are rough,” she said. “We’re trying to come up with creative ways to keep us happy and keep people happy.”
-- Emily Green
Photo: Inglewood Public Library