The Essential Role of Libraries in Creating Nature-Rich Communities

Children & Nature Network | by Richard Louv Jun 24, 2019

Libraries exist in every kind of neighborhood; they already serve as community hubs; they’re often supported by Friends groups; they have existing resources (nature books); they’re often more flexible than schools; they’re known for being safe—and they’re a perfect, if unexpected, institution to connect people to nature.

As a parent, teacher, community—or, of course, librarian, you can build community support for turning a local and regional library into a Natural Library (or Naturebrary or Nature-Smart Library, as some folks call libraries that maximize natural elements).

Here are some suggestions for what parents, conservation groups, librarians and others can do to create nature-smart libraries, drawn from St. Paul and other cities.

The Sun Ray Natural Library Project’s pioneering renovation project, designed with the help of C&NN board member and architect Mohammed Lawal, includes natural elements throughout, including green spaces inside and in an adjacent park, an outdoor reading garden, wildlife-friendly plants, rain gardens, and dozens of newly planted trees. There’s also a children’s “Nature Nook” inside the library with interactive wildlife features and doors to the children’s outdoor reading garden. There will be a public art installation there called “House Trees” where little houses will be placed up in the air on artistically rendered tree branches.