Monday, December 7, 2015

Oh, Tannenbuch... Or the Evolution of a Book Tree

Making a book tree is not a new thing.  We saw it on a twitter or or instagram posting somewhere and decided to give it a try in 2012.  It has now become a tradition to which the students anticipate; they begin asking us about it in mid-November.

Here in Germany, the Christmas tree is called a Tannenbaum.  Since ours is made of books, it has affectionately become our Tannenbuch.  

The first year we built it on a pallet and added a helium balloon star.  It wasn't very tall, very stable, nor very pretty. But it was a hit. And those are actual library book gifts around the base.  (See this post for the details.)

After studying photos of other book trees online, we were more purposefully in our construction and decided to build a "green" tree the next year.  It was quite fun to pull all the green books - far more fun to pull than to reshelve them later.

Year three saw the addition of a little red and a base made of old encyclopedias.

This year we added a little blue for our school colors and built it a little taller.  We have begun housing unused textbooks in the library, and our anti-lumberjack (the name we have for the assistant who builds the tree each year) found that having a surplus of thick, uniform books made construction simpler and more stable. 

No one remembers why, but our tree has become an exercise in estimation.  Students of all grades, as well as staff, are each allowed one educated guess at the number of books used. Prizes have varied from books to movie cards to book fair vouchers. We have done this since year one - but that year we could not give the prizes until we returned from vacation, dismantled the tree, and counted the books.  The next year we grew wiser.  

We now have a patron named Christmas Tree, and every book used in construction is scanned out to Tree.  This method provides an accurate count of books (without actually counting, and marks all of Tree's books as unavailable so we no longer scour the room looking for a book that turns out to be the cornerstone.

Our tree started at one end of the library in 2012 and has moved its way, a little each year, across our space to its present location, right next to the front door.  

So I have to wonder, where will we put it next year?