The Star-Herald

Presque Isle library opts for small book trees in celebration of holiday season

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Visitors to the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library would see a large Christmas tree made up of hundreds of books standing near the front entrance during a typical December — a celebration of the holiday and of the library’s mission to serve readers of all ages.

But this year, to avoid a large crowd of volunteers building the tree, library staff have decorated all floors with smaller book trees. 

“[The usual book tree] is such a large project that we thought it wouldn’t be safe or logical this year,” administrative assistant Elyse Kiehn said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kiehn and Jackie Shaw, the library’s assistant director and reference librarian, contributed five book trees, many of them complete with holiday garland, ornaments, fake snow and memorabilia. All the trees are made with older hardcover books that have largely been out of circulation at the library.

Many small book trees are featured in the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library this holiday season, including this one on the second floor. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

Kiehn’s favorite tree, placed next to the book drop-off bin on the first floor, features green branches and Christmas lights intertwined with the books, leading up to an open, downfacing book as the tree’s “star.”

“People seem to be enjoying the trees,” Kiehn said. “Last year I noticed people stopping by just to see the big tree, so it has become a good tradition.”

In the children’s storytime room, hundreds of books from the library’s shelves stand stacked against the wall, replicating the look and shape of a real Christmas tree. The top book is the classic Christmas Eve tale “The Night Before Christmas.”

On the second floor, near the windows facing Second Street, sits a tree similar to that on the ground floor, with red- and green-covered books, strings of lights and a gnome resting atop the “star” book. Visitors to the third floor will see a tiny shelf tree Shaw created using family genealogy books and a slightly larger one Kiehn made using books of various sizes.

A book tree in the Presque Isle library’s storytime room features “The Night Before Christmas” alongside the tree’s star. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

Regardless of their size, Kiehn said, book trees are a fun, festive way to bring out the holiday spirit in anyone who comes to the library.

“This year it has felt good to decorate, especially since we’re not able to host events and celebrate together,” Kiehn said. “It’s a nice way to show the community that we still care.”

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