Lisle Library District offers seed lending program

<p>University of Illinois Extension/Submitted</p>

University of Illinois Extension/Submitted

Libraries aren’t traditionally thought of as a place to find gardening materials, but the Lisle Library District’s new Seed Library isn’t a typical collection.

The Lisle Library District’s Seed Library, which will allow patrons to “borrow” seeds and return harvested ones at the end of the season, launched Wednesday, May 7. 

The library is offering “Seed Saving 101” orientations at 7 p.m. May 7 and 14 that will cover how to grow plants from seed as well as how to save seeds from popular garden vegetables. After the orientation, patrons will be able to select their choice of up to five seed packets from about 50 different types of vegetable seeds available. Attendees are encouraged to help replenish the collection in the fall with their returned seeds.

Patrons who are unable to attend an orientation also will be able to borrow seeds, and their returned seeds will enter the “local harvest collection” rather than the heirloom collection. This is done to ensure the heirloom seeds remain true to form.

Seed libraries are a nationwide trend, but the concept came to the Lisle Library via Mike Monahan, librarian and adult programming coordinator. 

“I think offering seeds is a natural extension of our services,” Monahan said. “The seed library encourages self-reliance and fosters a culture of sharing — two traditional library goals.”

One of the “Seed Saving 101” orientations will be taught by Katrina Chipman, horticulturalist for the Morton Arboretum. According to Chipman, starting a seed library is important for the community in a couple of different ways.

“Seed lending libraries not only connect the community, but will also help specific varieties of plants become adapted to this area,” Chipman said. “It also gives residents the opportunity to try new plant varieties and select the strongest ones for saving seeds and sharing.”

While the LLD Seed Library will start with an inaugural collection donated by the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, the goal is to be self-sustaining through return donations of new seeds after the plants grow. Monahan also stressed that the program will work only if borrowers donate seeds in return. 

“There are no late fees, but when you check out seeds, our hope is that you collect some of them and return them to the library,” Monahan said.

In addition to launching a seed library, LLD is also hosting an upcoming series of gardening programs: “Be an Herbal Gourmet” and “Make Your Own Garden Wattle” in June, and U of I Extension master gardener classes on vegetable gardening and winter sowing in July and August.

For more information about the LLD Seed Library or to register for an orientation session or gardening program, contact Monahan at or 630-971-1675, ext. 1505. Visit

Courtesy of Lisle Library District