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You can now check out seeds from New York libraries

by Public Libraries on January 26, 2015

Eco

There have been plenty of stories in the past couple of years about the interesting ways in which libraries are trying to bring new utility to their communities.  This one might just top the list in its uniqueness, however:  The Chemung County Library District in Ney York state has started offering gardeners the opportunity to “check out” seeds from the libraries themselves.

The library district says that they hope to provide fresh and healthy food growing opportunities to their surrounding communities, and recognize that high quality seeds for healthy crops can be difficult to come across.  Gardeners of all skills levels are welcome, and the project is actually a continuation of one that started last summer at the Big Flats and Horseheads Free libraries.  Pam Lee, who heads the project at the Horseheads library, says that the idea was that growers could take seeds away and grow their crops, and then return with a portion of the seeds from their harvests later in the year.  In this way, much like a regular library book lending system, the number of items in the seed library could be maintained and kept self-sustaining.  Currently, patrons can take up to five packets of seeds with them at a time.

Just like with anything else at the library, however, you do need a library card to ‘check out’ any seeds.  In some ways, this may entice new community members to become library patrons and get their own cards.  Officials note that while they hope that patrons’ plantings are successful, they “understand some plants are harder to seed than others.”  With that in mind, the library asks that anyone who checks out seeds brings back any that they end up not using, whatever the reason.

The library also says that it wants to work hard to maintain the quality of the seeds.  When seeds are returned, relevant staff will work to verify the origin of returned seeds.  “Open-pollinated or heirloom seems,” the rules state, “but no hybrids.”

While the program saw only marginal usage last year, having seeds from the very start of the year – combined with greater awareness as time goes on – will probably bring about much larger engagement in the program this year.  In fact, as planting season approaches, some branches have already seen a rising rate in seeds being checked out.

Apparently, the range of seeds available is also quite large:  vegetables, squash, flowers, Swiss chard, beans, and more are ready for use by the community.  All in all, there are around 50 different species available.

Not confident in your own planting and gardening skills?  No problem!  Local experts on horticulture will be putting on workshops at various branches throughout the year, so even newbies can get growing in no time.  Both of the libraries currently offering the program plan to have their own workshops every month that will help establish the basics of planting a garden as well.  Some of the classes offered will also focus on certain topics, like growing in certain adverse conditions, or how those living in apartments or with other limited-space setups can get involved as well.

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Chicago libraries host special events on National Readathon Day

by Public Libraries on January 19, 2015

Coffee Book

This Saturday, January 24th, is National Readathon Day, and Chicago area libraries are looking to host some exciting events, especially for their patrons.  The Readathon is a country-wide celebration of reading and a prime opportunity for libraries to reengage with their patrons.  Today, young people have so many other devices and platforms competing for their attention, that library going can get tossed by the wayside.  In Chicago, several branches are setting up opportunities to show their (even more) fun sides.

Of the area libraries, Chicago Public, Des Plaines Public, Evergreen Park Public, McHenry Public, Palos Heights Public, and Plainfield Public Libraries will be participating with pre-accounted events.  At Palos Heights and Chicago Public, for example, a children’s reading will be hosted by librarians.  At Plainfield and Evergeen, readings will be hosted, with snacks provided for attendees.  McHenry will be hosting a reading with a raffle, where children and teens can take home some sweet prizes.  Des Plaines Public Library hasn’t announced that it will be hosting a reading, but it has said it will be giving out 100 “survival” kits to the first patrons to come through its doors on Saturday.  The kits will include a new book bag, along with snacks for readers to munch on while reading at home.

Essential to the Readathon, as well, are pledge-based fundraisers, which will occur much in the way that a walkathon would in other scenarios.  The Readathon will run from noon to 4pm, and the events will take place within this time window.

The national holiday is not only set to revitalize interest in library attendance, but also hopes to breath new financial life into struggling systems.  Over the past few years, some systems have seen improvement in attendance and funding, while others still feel the chilling effects of repeated government budget cuts over the past 10-15 years.  While there are plenty of petitions each year at the municipal, county, and state level to increase or bring back funding to libraries, options like the Readathons help libraries to take things into their own hands and make a change while waiting on bureaucratic red tape – which may never be broken through at all.

Of course, libraries don’t have to limit themselves to events like the Readathon to try and raise additional funds.  Many libraries across the country hold their own events throughout the year.  While libraries are already technically community (tax) funded, many people don’t mind giving their library an extra hand when asked.  For some, this means direct donations, while for others it means volunteering to help keep costs of operations down.

In any event, however, it’s nice to see communities rallying around their libraries.  Hopefully, Saturday’s events will be able to bring in a crowd, and pledges can help to keep things running smoothly.  Of course, libraries across the country will be participating, so there’s no need to fret if you don’t live in the Chicago area.  A quick call to your local branch should help you find some fun events to attend.

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Ohio libraries open gift shops to help fund operations

January 5, 2015
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Borrowing a common pool of resources is the way of the library. From books, to CD’s, to computers and Internet usage, libraries offer services to their communities free of charge. These services are then funded by the government, and by extension tax revenue. Unfortunately, the funding libraries have received in recent years hasn’t always been enough. In the midst of economic crunch times, the library systems in each state and […]

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Court ruling against Kentucky library funding would be disastrous

December 16, 2014
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It’s not often that libraries find themselves on the receiving end of a major lawsuit, but that’s exactly what’s going on right now in Kentucky.  Many library systems across the state are now being rolled into a lawsuit that could potentially strip them of millions of dollars, and result in cuts to services and employment across the board. The lawsuit itself is rooted in an obscure 50 year old 1964 […]

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Libraries are hosting themed events for the holidays

December 10, 2014
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The community hub that libraries provide is valuable at all times throughout the year, but holidays provide the context for some truly magical settings.  This is especially true around Christmas, and the library system in Rockingham County, North Carolina, is planning some literal holiday magic for its patrons. This week, they welcomed a magic duo by the names of Chris and Neil to entertain library-goers.  On December 9th, the free […]

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New York Public Library offers free wireless mobile hotspots

December 3, 2014
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New York City understands the importance of internet access in our current day and age.  Even New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, has proposed several measures in recent years to help bring access to those in the city who might not have it yet.  In many cases, city officials have found, cost is still a barrier that keeps some of its residents from getting online via their own broadband subscriptions. […]

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MIT appoints new director of libraries

November 25, 2014
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The league of schools within which MIT, Stanford, and others like them exist is an exclusive one to be sure. It represents the upper echelon of traditional academia. Part of the challenge of maintaining this image means hiring nothing but the best staff and faculty to ensure that the institution continues to move forward and upward. This past Friday, MIT took that step in appointing a new director of its […]

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New library in San Diego gets a new director

November 19, 2014
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San Diego, as many other cities, is looking to bring its library system into the 21st century.  Of course, that’s no easy task when the very definition of the technological cutting edge – in the library world and in every other sector – changes from day to day.  Rapid advancements in both the needs of community users and the services that libraries can provide have driven rapid turnover within the […]

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Detroit gets its first Little Free Library

November 11, 2014
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Ever heard of a Little Free Library?  If not, you’ve probably seen one as you’ve driven or walked around. They are probably the world’s smallest libraries.  In fact, there are over 20,000 of them worldwide now, with a high concentration of them located in the US. These “little free libraries” function as the name implies; they’re basically oversized mailboxes – though usually decorated or built out of nice wood – […]

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Community funding can really help libraries in need

November 5, 2014
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With the economic roller coaster of the past decade still very much in focus, state budgets are often cutting costs wherever they can.  Unfortunately some lawmakers deem libraries as “non-essential” parts of government services.  This can mean a severe shortfall in the amount of funding received versus the amount needed. In Springfield, Missouri, however, community funding efforts organized by groups formed to help promote library activities are helping to supplement […]

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