Going To A Tempe Library – But Not For A Book

Published: Monday, May 15, 2017 - 6:38pm
Updated: Monday, May 15, 2017 - 9:19pm
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(Photo by Mark Brodie - KJZZ)
Librarian Ann Leonard is helping to grow the seed library at Tempe Public Library.

Let’s take a trip now — to the library.

I recently headed to Tempe Public Library, but I wasn’t there to check out any books, or DVDs or music. I was there for seeds.

Off to the side a bit when you walk in is a wooden card catalog. This one, though, does not use the Dewey Decimal system — its 30 drawers contain packs of seeds. They’re specialized to the region, and the season — meaning right now, for example, they’re filled with plants that thrive in higher temperatures.

Librarian Ann Leonard works on the seed library here — it’s been up for less than a month, and she tells me in that time, there’ve been more than 400 packets checked out. But before finding out more about the collection, I had to find out more about the seed storage system.

"We use a repurposed card catalog [from] back before we had computers for our catalogs," Leonard said. "They're using these all over the state of Arizona to work with seed packets, and coincidentally it's the perfect size for seed packets."

Leonard is a librarian at Tempe Public Library. The library gets its seeds from a Mesa-based nonprofit called Garden Pool, which describes itself as an international public charity for sustainable food. In addition to Tempe, it also provides seeds to libraries in Mesa and Florence, among other cities.

"The seed library does many things," said Dennis McClung, founder and president of Garden Pool. "It strengthens the community by providing local access to free garden seeds, helps close the food deserts, and also serves as a hub of resources for other community gardens to help feed the homeless."

Garden Pool provides seeds for public libraries, but it’s not the only one — there are also other nonprofits that provide seeds for seed libraries, including some around the Valley.

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