The Blossoming of the Library Garden: How One Library Is Engaging Families Outdoors

Maria Trivisonno, Beate van der Schalie


As twenty-first-century libraries create programming, they are finding innovative ways to engage children and families in lifelong learning through hands-on experiences.

Outdoor nature spaces and gardens at public libraries are ideal environments for both formal and informal learning. In underserved, urban communities where greenspace is limited, providing a learning garden as a resource is especially valuable.

Using Cuyahoga County Public Library’s (CCPL’s) Warrensville Heights (WVH) branch library as a case study, this article explores how a library in a low-income inner-ring suburb installed a children’s garden that led to numerous positive impacts. In October 2015, Sari Feldman, then executive director of Cuyahoga County Public Library in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, approached the staff of the WVH branch with the idea of developing a children’s garden at the branch. In Warrensville Heights, a community with a population of roughly thirteen thousand, many families live in apartments and lack access to green space. The area is aptly described as a “food desert,” where residents have little access to fresh produce.

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