Lebanon (Illinois) Public Library begins lending seeds

From the Illinois Heartland Library System member newsletter. The Helen Matthes Library in Effingham, IL also has a seed library program.

The Lebanon Public Library is pleased to offer an exciting new lending program in spring 2014. They now offer their library patrons the opportunity to ‘borrow’ heirloom and open-pollinated seeds for free! Their goal is to create a self-sustaining seed library where growers who ‘borrow’ our seeds will save and return seeds to the library after they have harvested their crops. They can then offer the more seeds to borrowers during the next growing season and the cycle can repeat itself. Over time, the seeds will become stronger and increasingly acclimated to the local growing conditions.

Seed saving has been practiced for thousands of years and is vital part of our agricultural heritage. A seed library is also an invaluable tool for community building, through the exchange of ideas and experiences that growing from seeds can bring about. There are currently over 60 seed libraries in 23 states and the number is continuing to grow. Public libraries have long encouraged ideas of sustainable living through the circulation and sharing of free library materials and resources among communities. These ideas are also aligned with the sustainability brought about by seed saving and sharing, making our public library a natural home for such a program. They hope this program is an asset to their community and the surrounding area. Lebanon has a long history of gardening and supporting those with a passion for the beautiful as well as the bountiful.

In setting up this program the library had input from area seed geneticists, garden club members and a plant geneticist from Cambridge University. “So far the program has been a hit,” says director Kelly Wilhelm. “People have been checking out seeds and more gardening books as well. We hope this seed library becomes a staple in our community and an asset to gardeners throughout the area.”

For more information on this trend, see Seed lending: New role for public libraries and their card catalogs!, a post from 2013 on Wolper’s Insight & Outlook blog.

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