Oxford Library growing its community seed collection

Librarian Jennifer Erard is hoping to grow Oxford Public Library’s seed collection. Photo by D. Rush

If you’re a seed saver, bring some in to share

By Don Rush

When you go to the library these days, you never know what you’ll find. Gone (or not to be seen) are the drawers of cards of the Dewey Decimal System, however aside from books, audio and visual resources some libraries have something else for patrons – seed collections. From bean seeds, to tomato seeds, to azalea to watermelon seeds, Oxford Public Library has the seeds.

The seed collection at Oxford Public Library consists of both flower and vegetable seeds.

“It’s basically a very simple program,” Librarian Jennifer Erard said. “People can come in and browse the collection – just like they do with books – they can check seeds out. It’s a self checkout system. It does not involve a lot of staff time, because we don’t have to help them. It’s a free service. It really doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything except for the staff time involved in sorting and cateloguing.”

Erard said the library relies on donations to keep their collection strong. Seeds are catalogued A-Z (just like books). Located in the Adult Service section of the library, patrons can browse for seeds they may want to grow. Next to the seed collection are individual envelopes to carry the seeds home. “People write the seed types on the envelopes. Some take pictures of instructions on the back of seed packets catalogued.”

“I think it’s a wonderful way for the community to build connections with each other by supporting each other in their gardening endeavors. The different seeds people contribute are wonderful. I think we have every kind of pepper seed you can imagine.”

She said aside from area residents harvesting and donating seeds from their own gardens, they also have accepted large donations from seed companies. “Some of these seeds are rare. I am going to solicit them again, because they gave us very unique seeds you normally wouldn’t find. Seed companies do not necessarily carry the same seeds from year to year.”

Erard said she and her husband are also “seed savers” who donate to the library’s collection.

She said some of the popular seeds to “check out” are pea, bean, tomato, pepper seeds.

The library’s fall newsletter stated, “As a community, saving seeds help create local seed stocks that are better acclimated to our climate and which support an abundant and genetically diverse landscape.”

Erard also sees the seed collection as an economically beneficial program. “This can help stretch our budget,” she said. “Instead of buying an entire packet of seeds that you might not use up, you can come here and get a few seeds you need.”

She said sometime in the winter (“about the time we’re all getting cabin fever”), the library will start promoting their seed collection. “Last year in February we had about 100 people come in to physically take some seeds. And, in March we had about another 100 seed packets checked out. It was wonderful.”

Currently she is sorting and cataloguing seeds that were donated from patrons this past fall and she still encourages more from the community.

“This is a great way to give back to the community. Just save a few of your favorite flower seeds or vegetable seeds and contribute to the collection here at the library. It’s a good way to help other gardeners who are looking for interesting plants to grow. There are some really great finds here.”

For more information call the library at 248-628-3034. The library is located at 530 Pontiac.



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