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A Local Seed Library

While returning several slightly overdue books–yes, I resemble the stereotypical book hoarder–at the Mid-Manhattan Library of the New York Public Library on a recent afternoon, I noticed a flyer promoting a seed library. Any library member could request up to three packets of non-GMO vegetable, flower, or herb seeds.

My interest was piqued.


(Photograph by author)

The seed library was stored in a repurposed card catalog. A librarian presented me with a list of available packets and later flipped through the card drawers to fill my request. Very retro, inspiring, and emblematic of public libraries.


A card catalog. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In the recently published Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg describes public libraries launching novel programs and initiatives for citizens to improve themselves and their communities.

The New York Public Library encourages city residents interested in cultivating community, rooftop, or even fire escape gardens by providing them with the barest and most integral necessity–seeds. When scattered or planted, the seeds might beautify a street corner, help feed a household, or connect neighbors.

The seed library demonstrates how investment in libraries and palaces for the people might enrich our communities and shared society. Bountiful, sturdy, and long-living plants might grow from the tiniest seed.

Let’s hope that the New York Public Library seed library proves to be one.



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