Over the past few years, seed-lending libraries have been sprouting up around the country.
NPR Library’s Director, Susan Dillinger, loved the idea of becoming Florida’s first public library to offer non-GMO heirloom seeds to patrons.
Librarian Stephanie Jones created special packets for the seeds. The packet’s labels serve two purposes:
- Give patrons information they want
- Catalog the seeds so the library can gather data
The front label lists basic information about the seeds. The back includes planting and growing instructions, plus a bar code for librarians to scan at check-out.
Staff transfers seeds from their original packaging to NPR Library’s packets. Each packet contains 5 to ten seeds, depending on the plant variety.
Seed packets reside in a cabinet made from reclaimed wood, built and donated by volunteer Chris Marinec.
Packets are organized in drawers according to how easy or difficult the plants are to grow. Clearly-labeled dividers make it easy for patrons to find the seeds they need.
The seed-lending library officially launched in August 2013, along with the city’s new community garden program.
To help get the word out, Jones set up an info table at Tasty Tuesdays. “I used a free, make-your-own self-watering container with our organic basil seeds to draw in farmers’ market customers and introduce them to our seed exchange.”
The library’s wide selection of books and pamphlets about seed saving and organic farming help patrons in their gardening efforts.
In fact, since the seed-lending library began, gardening books have been flying off the shelves.
Although returning seeds to the library isn’t a requirement, some patrons come back to donate seeds from plants they’ve grown.