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UNC library brings together students and seeds at second-annual launch


Students decorate pots and plant seeds at the Kenan Science Library's seed library launch party on Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2022.

As students and community members started to gather in the Murray-Venable courtyard on Wednesday, one thing stood out – an old card catalog. 

Rather than being filled with cards though, it was filled with seeds. 

This UNC seed library launched in spring 2022. The idea was proposed by Jordan Green, a science and technology librarian at the Kenan Science Library. 

Green said she came up with the project when she was a graduate student at the University because it would be a unique addition to other campus programs. 

“This was something I thought of that UNC didn't have yet that I thought might also fit in with other existing resources like the edible campus initiatives, botanical gardens, the arboretum and our science programs,” she said. 

The seed library is housed in the Kenan Science Library Makerspace and provides students with free seeds, pots and planting materials. Green noted that users can “check out” collections of seeds and grow them at home with the option to return their plants in the next growing season.  

On Wednesday, people were greeted at their second annual launch party with packets of seeds, soil and miniature pots to celebrate the seed library’s one-year anniversary. 

Elaine Jimenez, a first-year student, said she attended the event because she is ready for the spring season. 

Students were given the choice to plant a variety of seeds such as basil, purple coneflowers and blanket flowers with instructions on how to properly grow them. 

Gracie Helms, another first-year student, said that she plans to grow her plant in her room. 

“I'm probably going to keep it near the window in my dorm room,” she said. “That's the only place you can get sunlight in there.” 

Green said that she hopes to see this event continue each year and be a space where people can come together to learn more about ecology and plants. 

Therese Triumph, head of the Kenan Science Library, said that this event helps spread awareness of the resources the library offers. 

“One of the things that all libraries try to do is bring students, faculty and staff in and explain to them all the information we have and all the different varieties of how you could find information,” she said. “The seed library is a fun event that people have to come find the Kenan Science Library.” 

Jimenez said she was excited to attend the event but had never been to the library before. She also said that she plans to grow her plant on her windowsill and hopes it will survive. 

Green said that the seed library has grown to include new varieties of seeds including vegetables, heirlooms and native plants. She noted that over 200 packets of seeds have been checked-out over the past year.

Triumph added that the card catalog they use to store the seeds is a special feature of the library that many people enjoy. 

“We were able to repurpose one of our smaller card catalogs and when we bring it with us, we did an event where we had a luncheon for our donors and our friends at the library — they loved it,” she said. 

Students and faculty at the event believe that this event is important for the education and well-being of students and community members. 

Helms said the event gives people the ability to relax and enjoy the warm weather. 

“It allows students to take a little bit of a break in between their classes,” she said. “It's nice to take a second and be in nature and breathe and do something creative.” 

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Green noted that this event allows students to interact with materials they may have never worked with before. 

“Students can engage with something that maybe they've learned about in a book or from class,” she said. “But we've given them some of the physical materials and information on how to get started so they can try it out.”