Williams Seed Library

What we accept

The Williams Seed Library collects and distributes open-pollinated and heirloom seeds.  We do not accept or distribute patented seeds or varieties protected by the Plant Variety Protection Act.


While we do our best to maintain the integrity of seeds in the collection, this is not a commercial seed source and the quality of seeds may vary. If you discover any problems with your seeds, including poor germination, off-types, or mislabeling, please let us know.  A seed library is a community effort, and you can help keep the collection healthy.

Seed Borrowing

The Seed Library is open to everyone, regardless of affiliation with Williams College, anytime Sawyer Library is open.

seed packet

Empty seed packet. Photo by Eric Parrish.

  1. Look through the seed cabinet and choose the seeds you would like to grow.  There is no spreadsheet of inventory, and each week the selection changes.  This is a "you get what you get" community project.  Welcome the unexpected!
  2. The seeds are pre-divided into labeled packets (pictured below), so you may take a packet for each kind of seed you plan to grow. Please do not take more than one packet of each kind, as this will allow as many people as possible to use the seed library.
  3. Fill out the Seed Library Checkout Log so we can track popular types of seed and community borrowing practices. You also have the option of leaving your email address if you would like occasional updates.
  4. Take the seeds home and plant them in your garden. Please pay special attention to pollination methods and isolation distances when planting your seeds. (For more on this, please refer to the book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth.)
  5. Tend your plants through the season and allow some of your crop to reach full maturity. Harvest seeds from a selection of your healthiest plants. (For more on harvesting healthy seeds, see "A Seed Saving Guide for Gardeners and Farmers" from the Seed Alliance.)
  6. Please bring seeds from healthy plants back to our Seed Library, so that we can maintain and grow our collection.

Seed Donation

The Williams Seed Library accepts donations of open-pollinated seeds (no hybrids) and would prefer organic seeds if possible. Please collect as much information as possible about the seed variety. This helps people next year know what they are getting. Please note we do not accept patented seeds or varieties protected by the Plant Variety Protection Act.

To donate seeds, please follow these steps:

  1. Place each type of seed you collected into a closeable plastic bag or envelope and bring it to Sawyer Library
  2. For each kind of seed, please fill out one of our seed donation forms (pictured below) and tape it to the bag or envelope of seeds.

    blank form for seed donation
  3. Place the baggy or envelope into the basket labeled “Seed Donations.”