Thursday, March 13, 2014
Librarian Justine Hernandez was at one of Tucson’s farmers markets trying to figure out how to connect Pima County Public Library (PCPL) to gardeners and the local food movement when she learned about grassroots community repositories for seeds.
An idea began to sprout: What if the library loaned seeds?
Hernandez’s proposal germinated in 2012. Over the next two years, the Seed Library grew from one branch to eight, sustained by patrons returning the seeds they reaped. Among her other duties, Hernandez coordinates seed-related programming, working with three librarians and other staff and community groups including Master Gardeners and a food bank.
Public libraries from California to New Hampshire partner with community groups to lend seeds. What sets Hernandez apart is her approach. The Pima Seed Library offers 219 cataloged seeds, allowing patrons to place holds on packets and have them shipped to any of the system’s 27 branches.
Hernandez’s leadership built the Seed Library into an “enormous, vibrant network” of community gardens, garden clubs, and groups working to beautify neighborhoods, create local food sustainability, and more, says Jennifer Nichols, a PCPL senior librarian. “Under Justine’s care, it is so much more than drawers of seeds.”