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- Doris Madsen, Reference Librarian, Pine Point Branch.

Commons. What we share. Creations of both nature and society that belong to all of us equally and should be preserved and maintained for future generations.
All that we share
, Jay Walljasper. 2010.

Commoners. In modern use, people who are dedicated to reclaiming and restoring the commons.
All that we share
, Jay Walljasper. 2010

Social Capital. Values and social networks that enable coordination and cooperation within society … the relationship between people and organizations which form the glue that strengthens civil society. “Libraries create social capital”,
Nancy Kranich, Library Journal. Nov. 2001.

As the featured speaker at an American Library Association (ALA) 2001 Annual Conference, Harvard professor Robert Putnam shared his concerns about the erosion of community social capital to an audience of librarians. According to Nancy Kranich, ALA President and host of the program, Putnam was taken aback when he discovered the level of social capital present amongst the audience of librarians.

The public library is the physical place where the entire intellectual, cultural, scientific and informational storehouse of the world is open to all for free. It is a shared community resource, a safe gathering place where people of all ages can share interests and concerns, find information essential to civic participation and connect with neighbors. The library is an institution rich in social capital and poised to sustain civic awareness and community revival. (Kranich)

Civil society creates and sustains commons. The Magna Carta, of 1215, was the first document to mark a political commons, the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot. Environmental movements and indigenous people movements around the world exemplify social groups working to establish a commons-like structure to the sharing of precious natural resources.

The library where I work is located in an urban neighborhood. Many of those we serve have had a lot taken away from them. The library branch represents the community giving back, a resource equally shared by the entire neighborhood, a resource that is free to all, no matter who or what they are. We are building social capital every day we are open.

The Springfield Seed Library (a commons), to be housed in a repurposed card catalog at Pine Point Branch library, 204 Boston Rd. will grow as gardeners (commoners) in the city contribute seeds. The project will grow and social capital will be reaped as gardeners visit and borrow seeds for their home and community gardens.

Springfield City Library is proud to produce the Springfield Seed Library in partnership with New Growth Gardens and Artists in Context.