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Gardeners find winter diversion at the libraries

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Photo submitted The Delta County Seed Library is one of the many resources available through the Delta County Libraries.

Delta County Libraries offers many unexpected things: iPads for checkout, a myriad of classes and downloadable music online, a distance learning option for high school equivalency classes, Colorado State Park passes for checkout, and much more.

The availability of these resources may remain surprising to some patrons because, traditionally, when people think of libraries, they think of books: rows and rows of books. In fact, that perception is still very accurate. Each of the five libraries does offer rows and rows of books for checkout, and patrons still make good use of these materials. In fact, in 2016, the average number of print materials checked out during library hours was 591 items per day.

However, just as the community's needs and interests are diverse and unique, so are the services and programs available at Delta County Libraries. The Seed Library, which originated as a pilot program out of the Hotchkiss Library in 2013, has been steadily growing to reach patrons countywide.

"When the Seed Library first began, it was only available at the Hotchkiss Library," says Sarah Pope, Hotchkiss seed librarian and the force behind the seed library. "Over time, we have added seed cabinets to each library in the county and have continued to add more and more seeds to our collection. As the number of seeds in our collection grows, so too, does the need for related programming and staffing. The libraries have been working collaboratively to grow the program, prepare for the 2017 growing season, expand educational outreach and develop partnerships with local people and organizations."

Although the time for planting seeds is still on the horizon, the newly-trained seed librarians at each library are busy tending to one of the most essential steps in the process: seed saving. Just as all plants start with a seed, all seed packages in the seed library start with the tender loving care of the community. January's seed-sorting events are a great way for seed enthusiasts, avid gardeners and library supporters to help the Delta County Seed Library thrive in 2017.

"The third annual seed-sorting party in Hotchkiss will be on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 4 p.m.," Pope states. "We will be packaging the incoming seed donations to get them ready for check out this spring. We rely on seed donations from local patrons to fill our seed library. We also rely on our seed sorting parties to get all our seeds packaged and ready for spring. This year, multiple libraries are hosting seed events to help support the seed library."

Staff member and seed librarian Karen Howe will be facilitating the upcoming seed-sorting event at Paonia Library. "I hope the event on Saturday, Jan. 28, will draw Paonia's gardeners and naturalists," Howe says. "As a green thumb myself, and being interested in continually learning the tricks of the trade, I look forward to meeting the experts in the community. If you have seeds (or time) on your hands and want to help build our community seed library for the 2017 growing season, then join us over the lunch hour at the Paonia Library on the 28th."

Delta Library will host its seed-sorting event on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 4 p.m. with staff member and newly appointed seed librarian, Hannah Easter. "I am hoping to get teens and adults involved to help with the packaging," Easter says. "I want to make a connection with students in Delta because it will be a learning experience and it will open their eyes to the amazing resources available to them at the libraries."

For more information on the seed library, visit Delta County Libraries website at http://www.deltalibraries.org/north-fork-seed-library/.

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