Sep 11, 2014
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The Richmond Public Library’s seed-lending catalog system helped to inspire a similar system in a town more than 2,000 miles away.

A public library in Normal, Ill., about two hours from Chicago, reportedly began offering a seed exchange Thursday. Patrons of Normal Public Library can now fill out a form to borrow packets of vegetable, fruit and flower seeds to grow on their properties.

In an article in the Pantagraph, the town’s local news publication, Richmond Public Library got a hat-tip for its “simple approach” to seed lending. With libraries shifting to digital, the Normal branch wondered what to do with its outdated card catalogs:


Hundreds of seed exchanges have popped up across the U.S. Among their purposes, supporters say, are to increase access to healthy, locally grown foods, and to encourage genetic diversity.

According to Richmond Grows, which operates the Richmond Seed Library, the current U.S. food supply is becoming increasingly centralized and homogenous, with “reliance on a few select varieties.”

“This centralization puts our system at considerable risk due to its susceptibility to disease that could wipe out significant portions of our food supply,” the group stated in a recent letter published in the Richmond Standard.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.