Library tree coming down: Removal will make room for stations, updates


When the Seymour Library unveiled its new addition and renovations to the community in 2005, people were in awe of the life-sized tree growing in the middle of the children’s department.

Although the tree wasn’t real, being made of spray polyurethane foam, it brought to life the imaginations of thousands of children who played in and around it.

Hollowed out inside with a bench to sit on, the tree offered a “secret hiding place” or “tree house” for kids and sometimes their parents to escape into a good book.

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“My daughter loves to sit inside it by herself and read,” said Mackenza Winterton of Seymour.

But after 11 years, the tree is coming down to make way for new carpet, the addition of more interactive learning and activity stations and other updates, library officials announced.

Sunday will be the final time for kids to play in the tree, and the library is encouraging patrons to come have their pictures taken with it so it’s not forgotten. The library at 303 W. Second St. is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

During the renovations, all children’s programs will be conducted in the library’s large meeting room.

Library director Julia Aker said it wasn’t an easy decision to remove the tree, and it will be missed.

“Unfortunately, it is made of foam and will disintegrate if it is moved at all,” Aker said. “There is no way to put the carpet in around it. The top of it has already shifted away from the ceiling.”

In late 2012, the tree had to undergo emergency repairs costing $2,800, some of which was paid for by the Friends of the Jackson County Public Library group.

The tree originally cost $14,100 but would cost more than $20,000 to replace, Aker said.

Many people were saddened to hear the news and made suggestions the library replace the tree with a new one.

“We discussed replacing it, but where it currently is also blocks the sight lines from the help desk,” Aker said. “We are getting new items to put in that area that staff can see around and over and not spending that much money.”

Megan White of Seymour said her 2-year-old twins have enjoyed the tree during their many trips to the library.

“That is one of the best parts about our library, for sure,” she said.

What many people don’t know about the tree is it is a replica of an English copper beech tree that once stood at Walnut and Fourth streets in front of the Cartmel, Kirtley and Stuckwisch dental office.

That tree, which was 150 years old and thought to be the last of its kind in the state, was struck by lightning and removed in October 2005, just a couple of months after the library installed its replica tree.

Aker said she suggested the idea of the tree for the children’s department because there was a trend for libraries to have interactive features.

At one point, there was discussion about installing a train children could ride, but the tree seemed like a better idea, she said.

Darlene Beavers of Seymour also hated to hear the tree was coming down.

“I used to sit inside it and read books to kids, even if they weren’t my kids,” she said.

Longtime library youth services employee Shannon Sumner recalled when the tree was being installed.

“I remember it being in sections when the library first got it and laughing uncontrollably because I kept thinking that the tree would never fit inside the building, but I was proven wrong,” she said.

She also said the tree made it difficult to vacuum and was a tripping hazard. Regardless, she will miss it, she said.

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