Up At The Tree House-A Little Tree House Library

Education // June 19, 2018

By Christina Moresi, M.Ed., Wissahickon Environmental Center

The summer is upon us at the Tree House, and the forest is full of life. There is adventure on every trail, and every day a new discovery. Our newest discovery for visitors is a small library on our back porch. Thanks to the Andorra Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Friends of Andorra Library, the Wissahickon Environmental Center (WEC) has its very own Little Tree House Library. The library, a small replica of the Tree House, holds books for children, adults, and families to enjoy at the Tree House, borrow and read at home, or exchange with a book they would like to share with our Tree House friends.

The donation of the library, books, and new reading discoveries, is part of a larger grant that also brought the Birding Backpacks to Andorra Library (see FOW spring 2018 newsletter). In 2016, JoAnne Woods, Branch Head at the Andorra Library, wrote a proposal to launch a “Free Library of Nature.”

“The comprehensive proposal included many equipment, installation, and programming ideas including the birding backpacks and the little library,” Woods said.

Martha Raively, member of the Friends of Andorra Library, explained that when Andorra’s proposal to launch a Free Library of Nature was only partially funded internally, the Friends group was happy to support it.

“A Little Free Library located at the Wissahickon Environmental Center seemed a perfect marriage of books with nature,” she said.

Raively also said that the Friends of Andorra Library were especially delighted with the efforts of the craftsmen to match the little library’s design with the WEC’s tree house theme.

After extensive research, Trish Fries, Environmental Education Specialist at the Tree House, found woodworker James Wall on Etsy. He was excited to take on the challenge of designing and building a replica of the Tree House. Fries sent Wall photos of the Tree House and a budget, and he graciously created this steeply discounted masterpiece. And, of course, our library would not be standing if not for the craftsmanship of woodshop volunteer John Dickson.

The Free Library of Nature was partially funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation, which provided the Birding Backpacks. In order to complete the little library portion of the initiative, the Friends of Andorra Library received a grant from the Philadelphia Activities Fund through Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. of the 4th District.

Woods said she is thankful for the current funding and hopes to continue to find additional funding to expand this initiative.

Books, summer afternoons, and shade trees go hand in hand in the summer, relaxing the body and awaking the soul. Visit our Little Tree House Library to discover adventures in the Wissahickon–not just in the woods, but also in the words of a favorite book.

Christina Moresi, M.Ed., is an Environmental Education Planner at the Wissahickon Environmental Center.