Organisation - December 19, 2018

Depreciated books turn into Christmas tree

Roelof Kleis

Should a Christmas tree be a tree per se, with branches, garlands, baubles, etc.? No, of course not. Staff members of the library in Forum built one using books.

© WUR Library

Right in front of the entrance of the library – you can’t miss it (figuratively) – there is a nearly two-metre-high cone made of books. The top of the cone is adorned by a topper. No lights, no candles, no baubles. But unmistakably a Christmas tree. And a splendid one, too. Information specialist Joke Webbink, who came up with the idea for the book tree, is rather proud of it.

She does think that saying ‘she came up with the idea’ is giving her too much credit. ‘I most probably saw it somewhere before, but I don’t recall where.’ Webbink is a book lover. ‘Whenever I see something creative done with books anywhere in the world, I take a picture.’ She originally had a different idea. ‘I wanted to build an igloo out of book on the bridge, the connection between the library and the rest of the building.’

However, the others did not think it was such a good idea. Rules were literally standing between the dream and reality. ‘Something about safety and so on.’ And so, it turned into a book tree. The books were set up around a round table. Not as support, but as a base for the shape. It is not entirely clear how many books were used in the tree. ‘It’s a bit silly, but we didn’t keep track of that.’ The kind of books is clear, however. ‘These are depreciated books with bound journals.’

At first, we tried to build the top out of pockets from the SWAP shelf. But it looked pretty bad.
Joke Webbink

Physical journals are barely consulted nowadays. People read online, Webbink explains. The libraries around the country respond to this development by not having all physical copies in-house after mutual consultation. This means part of the collection can go. The book tree was built out of such superfluous bound journals. Moreover, they have excellent properties to be used as building blocks.

Nice and strong
‘They are nice and strong and have subdued colours: green, black, maroon’, she continues. ‘At first, we tried to build the top out of pockets from the SWAP shelf. But it looked pretty bad. Way too colourful.’ The tree could actually have been made to be much bigger. ‘We still had many books left. But we simply couldn’t reach anymore.’ The tree will remain at least until the turn of the year. ‘Because the library remains accessible between Christmas and the new year.’

Resource is looking for more beautiful Christmas trees. Do you have a tree truly shining in your department, on your colleague’s desk or in the shared living room of your dorm? Share them on Instagram using the hashtag #resourcewur, or email them to

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