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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

"For me, gardening is the best tool I have to create inclusive library programs. In my urban library, children without disabilities have no advantages over children with disabilities because none of them have gardened before, it’s a level playing (or planting) field."

Read an interview with the authors now!

Roman philosopher Cicero once remarked that “if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Today, libraries nationwide are beginning to incorporate gardens into their public services. Libraries in the southwestern US, for instance, are creating drought-tolerant gardens as neighborhood demonstration projects, while elsewhere gardens are being used to promote community engagement and even STEM learning. Citing examples of library gardens around the world that are thriving, this first-ever book on the subject not only demonstrates the many benefits of library gardens but also provides a complete overview of issues applicable to all library types and geographical environments. Featuring a full-color photo insert showcasing several beautiful library gardens, among the topics covered in the book are

  • a brief history of libraries and gardens, with an overview of such “demonstration gardens” as medicinal and herbal gardens, native plant gardens, xeriscapes, and gardens as wildlife sanctuaries;
  • the use of plants, such as living walls and rooftop gardens, to create ecologically healthy, sustainable environments;
  • gardens as learning environments and spaces for storytimes and active play;
  • food gardens, seed libraries, sensory gardens, outdoor reading areas, prison garden programs, and many other ways that libraries can engage communities;
  • guidance on designing for inclusivity, planning, funding, staffing, recruiting volunteers, and planting and maintenance, complete with advice on determining the best plants to cultivate; and
  • ideas on evaluating the effectiveness of library gardens and the program opportunities they offer.

Readers will not only be inspired to create and nurture their own library gardens and programs, they will receive practical advice on how to proceed and sustain them.

Listen to an American Libraries Dewey Decibel Podcast about libraries and gardens now!


Chapter 1    A Brief History of Libraries and Gardens
Chapter 2    Demonstration Gardens in Libraries
Chapter 3    Learning in Library Gardens
Chapter 4    Community Engagement
Chapter 5    Library Garden Design
Chapter 6    Planning and Managing the Library Garden
Chapter 7    Sustaining the Garden through Funding, Partnerships, and Volunteers
Chapter 8    Evaluating Garden Programs

  • Appendix A    A Tour of All the Gardens Cited in This Book
  • Appendix B    Sample Community Garden Rules, Regulations, and Gardener Agreements
  • Appendix C    Sample Volunteer Gardener Application
  • Appendix D    Sample Evaluation Report


Carrie Scott Banks

Carrie Scott Banks has been in charge of Brooklyn Public Library’s Inclusive Services since 1997 and taught Including Youth with Disabilities at Pratt Institute from 2013 to 2015. In 2012 she was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Active in ASGCLA and ALSC since 2000, she was the 2020 President of ASGCLA. In 2014, she substantially revised Including Families of Children with Special Needs: A How to Do It Manual for Librarians. Libraries and Garden: Growing Together, written with Cynthia Mediavilla, was published in the Spring of 2019.

Cindy Mediavilla

Cindy Mediavilla is an author and library consultant who recently retired from the California State Library as well as the UCLA Department of Information Studies. She is also a former public librarian. Her areas of expertise include community assessment, outcome-based planning and evaluation, after-school homework programs, library residency programs, and grant writing. Her most recent books include Libraries & Gardens: Growing Together (ALA Editions, 2019), coauthored with Carrie Banks. Cindy’s MLS and PhD are both from UCLA.

"Banks and Mediavilla have done a tremendous amount of research and present their topic thoroughly. Although the writing style of many reference books seems designed to promote a good night's sleep, this one is crafted in a refreshingly clear, readable writing style. The authors' obvious passion for their subject comes through on each page and makes this a highly engaging read. Purchasing it will be money well spent for almost any public, academic, or secondary school library."
— Booklist

"Generates a sense of what is possible with library gardens while also addressing the challenges involved in starting and maintaining a library garden (or even garden-related library programs and collections). The book includes chapters on community engagement, garden design, planning and maintenance, partnerships and funding, and garden program evaluation. The strength of the book is in its examples, including examples of what can go wrong with library gardens, such as the college library that had to deal with insects and humidity from its indoor foliage ... Libraries and Gardens: Growing Together is an exciting beginning for what will hopefully be a growing literature on library gardens."
— College & Research Libraries

"Would-be gardeners will find practical resources for new projects, and libraries that already have gardens will discover constructive ideas and advice."
— Library Journal