Thursday, April 6, 2017

Biodiversity and the Library: Seed Lending

Biodiversity and the Library:  Seed Lending

There has been a trend in commercial agriculture to focus on a small number of plant varieties, and to only grow the varieties that are seen as the most commercially successful, to the detriment of others.  The result has been that 75% of the global food biodiversity has become extinct within the last 100 years, and that 90% of the remaining biodiversity is not in use commercially.  Added to this is the fact that the focus of the largest seed producers is toward discouraging the saving of seeds, and is instead focused on the repurchase of the same seeds year after year.  This reduction in diversity can be harmful in many ways.  Fewer varieties mean that in the case of the advent of adverse conditions, whether biological or climate induced, the negative impact on the food supply is felt much greater than if there were more food crops to absorb the impact. 

In an effort to preserve and expand the biodiversity currently present in southwest Michigan, the South Haven Memorial Library will be hosting a seed lending library beginning April 24.  The seed library will contain a collection of non-GMO, organic, heirloom seeds that will be available for “checkout” by the public.  There will be a three seed packet limit.  The goal will not be to fully stock individual gardens, but instead to introduce home gardeners to a wider variety of produce.  Later in the year, the library will be hosting a series of programs covering harvesting seeds from the mature plants.  The request will be that a portion of those seeds harvested will be brought back to the library and placed back in the collection for future use, and that the rest will be replanted and used again the following year by the gardener.

As this collection grows and evolves, we will be building the biodiversity of the region, as well as a collection of seeds adapted to the region.  The core of this collection has been generously donated by:  Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Seed Savers Exchange, and High Mowing Seeds.  Additional donations of non-GMO, organic, heirloom seeds will be thankfully appreciated.

Friday, March 31, 2017

South Haven Memorial Library Renovation Plans

The South Haven Memorial Library is looking to renovate and expand its current facilities through a millage with the City of South Haven and South Haven Charter Township on May 2.  The .25 mil rate will mean an additional twenty-five cents for every one thousand dollars of taxable value to property owners within the City and Township.  The $2.3 million total project costs will be secured through a USDA loan, backed by the 40 year millage.  The library is working with a conceptual plan focusing on a new footprint of the building, with final decisions on design to come after the passage of the millage.  The millage is required to pass in both municipalities in order for the renovations to proceed.

The library will be looking to address ADA accessibility issues by restructuring the current stair access from the municipal parking lot to the west, and including a switch-back ramp up to the current sidewalk.  There will be an expansion of the current west entry canopy leading up to the newly remodeled and expanded entryway.  The current east entry will be closed off to make room for three new public restrooms.  While the library does not own any public parking there is also a proposal to add several new handicap parking spaces pending permission from the Post Office. 

The interior of the building will see an expansion of approximately 2,100 square feet to add to the library’s current 11,000 square feet.  There will be additional soft-seating, study space, and collection space added, as well as carpeting and furnishings.  Staff workspace will be reorganized for better efficiency, and the current office space for the director will be eliminated to provide more public floor space.

Current occupancy restrictions in the library community room limit events to no more than 80 people.  This means that many of the programs put on by the library during the summer are restricted to a set number of children, with the end result being that some children are not able to participate.  The current renovation proposal will address this with the installation of a movable wall that will allow the community room to be opened up to the children’s area, and allow increased participation for all in attendance. 

 Finally, some of the ongoing issues with the building to be fixed include, one of the basements that is frequently wet and not usable in its present condition.  The aging roof of the library, which is now beyond the warranty period, can be replaced.  The exterior walls of the building are currently not insulated and have lower insulating value than the windows.  The library has three separate HVAC systems that will be consolidated.  The electrical system for the front of the building will be addressed, to include light switches for turning the lights on and off.  Light switches will replace the existing system that requires the staff to use the circuit box. 

The South Haven Memorial Library has served the community in its present location since 1958, with the last major renovation occurring in 1989.  This library project addresses issues with the current building to ensure the needs of the community now and in the future.

Please contact the Library Director, Jim France, if you have any questions.