July 26, 2013
Library in Ohio offers a seed sharing card catalog
by Claire Kelley
In Ohio, the main branch of the Akron-Summit Public Library is using a repurposed card catalog to organize envelopes of vegetable seeds, which are available to patrons who visit the library’s science and technology division. They can be checked out by filling out a form, but unlike books or videos at the library, the packets don’t need to be returned—although division manager Monique Mason hopes that some people will bring back seeds from their gardens.
Library patrons can select up to six packets of seeds a month, and can choose from heirloom and hybrid varieties of vegetables.
The seeds have been donated by two seed companies—High Mowing Organic Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co, as well as gardeners who belong to the library’s community. Librarian Michele McNeal is in charge of the seed library, and helps to organize donations.
Other libraries across the country are getting similarly creative with community outreach programs related to food and gardening. In California, the Sacramento Public Library has instituted a program called “Read and Feed: Partnerships for Building Healthy Communities,” which recently got recognition from the Urban Libraries Council as the recipient of a Top Innovators Award. The initiative is geared toward children living in poverty, and combines a community garden with a range of programs to help community members of all ages learn about gardening and composting. Financed with grants from local agencies and supported by hundreds of community volunteers, the program is reaching people with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.