Saving Seeds – Free Webinar! Libraries take note!

Interested in the seed library concept?  Start by understanding more about seeds and what it takes to preserve seeds.  Check out this great free webinar happening on March 20 at 7 PM CDT!

Pima County Public Library is one of many libraries in on the seed exchange concept!  Consider for your library.

 

Instagram folks…what are you waiting for?

Hey library land!  I get that you love Pinterest, I really do.  It’s a cool site.  But check out Instagram!  The statistics for Instagram are pretty impressive – it is growing exponentially and I believe it may have already surpassed FourSquare in membership!  (If not, it will soon.)

I recently hosted a webinar for work with over 100 participants – when I took a poll of social media usage, not one said their library was using Instagram.

What’s impressive is that it’s only available on iPhone right now and it’s reached surpassed FourSquare. It’s in beta for Android now, so I can only imagine what participation will be like when that rolls out.

Mobile social networks are where the world is headed and Instagram is quickly becoming the new leader.

 

Urban Gardening Concepts

It’s been an insane few weeks preparing for the Public Library Association Annual Conference!  I have a lot more I’d like to share, but time has gotten away from me.  So here are a few ideas to get started for urban food education!

If you’re in an urban library, you can still teach patrons quite a bit about gardening, even if you don’t have a lot of green space.

For instance, you can grow lettuce, herbs and microgreens near a window.  There are a ton of great tutorials out there to check out!

If you have just a small bit of dirt running along a wall, consider growing peas.  Peas are easy to start now, and they’ll grow up a small trellis or string along the side of your building!

If you have some space ( a few feet ) to place a container, consider potatoes!  Using a collapsing pot let’s you grow potatoes during the season, then remove the dirt and the pot easily in the fall!

And don’t forget window boxes.  With a window box you can grow dwarf varieties of snap/sugar peas, edible flowers, herbs and more!

Let’s talk gardening grants…

Yes, that’s a real thing.  You can write a grant that helps you cover the expenses of a garden at your library!  WOW!  Okay, we’re running out of time…so let’s get crackin’ on those applications…

Here are two coming up soon (found through kidsgardening.org – a fantastic website!)

March 1 – 2012 Mantis Award (to receive a Mantis tiller/cultivator)

April 1 – 2012 Midwest Garden Grant (for those living in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin)

Regional/Local Grants

This is the time when grant applications are about to be due.  I found an astonishing amount of regional and local gardening and food education grants across the country.  Try search terms like your city/region/state name and ‘gardening grants 2012’.

Many local branches of Master Gardeners offer local grants!  Reach out to your local group if you don’t already have a working relationship with them!

Time To Get Your Garden On…

It’s mid-February, and you know what that means.  Almost Spring.  Which means almost gardening time.  And if you’ve been reading my last few posts, you know I’m getting all wound up about libraries as sources of food education.

So, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to give you a crash course in preparing a food garden and library programs related to it.  Whether you’re an urban library surrounded by concrete or a rural library with abundant agricultural resources, I think you’ll find information that can help you out!

We’ll go over different types of gardens, organizations that can help you out, grants that are available, programs you can run and more!

It’s time to track the outside world…

For a while, I’ve been doing a lot of listening.  I’ve listened in meetings, in appointments, at conferences and on listservs.  I’ve been sitting back and taking things in.  And more recently, I’ve started doing more talking.  Well, more conversing.  Talking with old friends, and meeting new friends and exchanging ideas via email.  It’s been energizing.

There’s one topic I’ve been dwelling on quite a bit and that’s the idea that we need to ask public library staff members to track specific groups and fields that are not necessarily related to our own.  So, instead of re-writing the idea, I’m just going to share a bit of my recent correspondence with a friend…

“One other note is that we have librarians who manage their own internal departments and monitor their own profession, but we need to ask library staff members to do more outward facing research.  I am of the opinion that each staff member in a library should be responsible for monitoring a broad knowledge area that is external of the library but could be incorporated in to library services or impact the library in some way.  So one librarian is responsible for monitoring local business and local food culture.  Maybe a circulation clerk is responsible for staying up to date on regional and national non-profit news.  Another clerk might be in charge of monitoring local health and social services activities.  This serves a two fold purpose.  The first is to find interactive touch points for the library to reach out to local groups and build partnerships of mutual benefit.  The second is to look at trends and issues facing other professions and seeing if their issues could potentially impact the library world and note how those professions addresssed the issue(s).  Libraries operate with a mindset that their problems are distinctly their own, but the problem and the solution are very often visible on the horizon often in a slightly different form.

What do you think?  Am I off base?  On track? Crazy?  I’d love to hear what you think.

Libraries and Food

I went to Mid-Winter in Dallas last weekend.  I didn’t get to attend many events, but I did attend the second session of R. David Lankes’ two part session “Expect More” which asked participants to creatively re-envision libraries and what we need to do to remain relevant.  It encompassed much more than that, and I’m not doing it justice but it’s not the point of my post anyways.

While there, a person in my discussion group mentioned their library was considering serving meals to patrons on the weekends because they have a high-poverty population and are in the middle of an urban food desert – a common combo.

I thought this was especially interesting given the news surrounding the Seed Library at the Pima County Public Library.  The seed library gives community members a way to exchange open-pollinated and heirloom seed varieties.

Libraries as food education centers, food resource centers and community garden locations.  Are libraries a starting point for helping improve food education and overcome regions that are food deserts?

Here’s a vegetable garden planted the Arlington Public Library (VA).

I plan to keep hunting for other libraries with vegetable gardens and food education programs.  Don’t have a lot of space?  Some folks just use a pick up truck to grow a garden and start educating folks.  Check out the Truck Farm movement!