Get Your Hands Dirty @ Your Library

We've previously featured Mt. Kisco Elementary's Garden on the Sustainability Spotlight, but we thought with Earth Day coming up it was a great time to highlight libraries that are really digging in to some Earthy programming.


Get Back to the Garden! at the Albert Wisner Library

At the Albert Wisner Library, LJ's Best Small Library in America 2016, they're organizing a full day of Get Back to the Garden! programming featuring beds, bees, and birds. Initially started to answer the Ramapo Catskill Library System's Program Outside the Box challenge, Get Back to the Garden! grew into a series of programs that feature community members sharing their horticultural skills with their neighbors in a day-long hug for the Earth. The day will start out with organic gardener, Gar Wang, showing attendees how to build and tend a raised garden bed. Later, Bill Neumann will bring in his real-life beehive, and teach people about bees, their lives, and honey production. Finally, families and people of all ages are invited to construct and paint their own birdhouses with materials provided by the library. There will also be an encore raised bed program for the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, where patrons will be invited to build, fill, and plant Shakespearean herbs in a raised bed in the library's green space. For more info on the Albert Wisner Library and their programming, you can contact Kathleen Georgalas, Assistant to the Library Director at

Gar Wang poses with her raised garden bed at the Albert Wisner Library.



Patterson Library Supports Community Health, Education, and Growth with Garden

The Patterson Library started their Healthy Living Program series back in 2010 in conjunction with the United Way of Westchester and Putnam’s Step Up 2 Health initiative. The Healthy Living Program featured programs for kids and adults that covered topics like wellness, fitness, nutrition, and gardening. Through this partnership and a grant from the Step Up 2 Health Initiative, the library was also able to double the size of their vegetable garden, add a gazebo, which serves as an outdoor education center, and build a shed to house the library’s garden tool lending program. Last year, they also added rain barrels to collect rainwater to water the garden.

The garden at the Patterson Library is very popular. People can often be seen walking in the garden, eating lunch, or picking herbs. Formally known as the Patterson Library Park, the library keeps the garden area open until 10 pm daily, so the people in the community can come and enjoy it, and they regularly offer patrons produce and herbs from the garden at the Circulation Desk. Programming regularly takes place in and around the garden including Putnam Cornell Cooperative Extension programs like Gardening from Seeds, How to Grow a Vegetable Garden, Composting, Canning, and Preparing Your Garden for Winter. The garden is also featured in Children’s programs, like the Global Garden Storytime, where kids hear stories about and plant vegetables from different parts of the world. The community's interest in healthy lifestyle choices and gardening is also reflected and supported by the library's collection, where they've created a Healthy Living section which has seen high circulation. The garden is maintained by library staff, and support from the community including partnerships with local businesses and professionals. For more info on the Patterson Library or its programming, contact Public Relations Coordinator, Lillie Muscente, at

A child poses wiht his potato harvest at the Patterson Library Park.

People gather to plant at the Patterson Library Park.



The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.