Seed Library

The San Mateo Public Library’s Seed Library offers free vegetable, herb, and California native flower seeds to San Mateo and Hillsborough residents. Visit the seed cabinet on Main Library’s 2nd floor to choose some seeds to plant in your garden or containers! Limit of one packet per seed type per visit, and five packets total per visit at the Main Library. Mini-seed libraries are available at the Marina and Hillsdale branches on a seasonal basis (limit 3 packets per visit). Seed types, growing tips, and lending guidelines are below—select tabs below to view information. 

Interested in donating seeds from your garden to share in the seed library? Contact

Planters with flowers and vegetables
  1. Mission
  2. Guidelines
  3. Seed Types
  4. Growing Tips


Planting from seed is a fulfilling adventure! Through the seed library, we hope to:

  • Spark interest in learning how to garden and grow food. Anyone can do it!
  • Foster an appreciation and enjoyment of nature, from soil organisms to plants to bees and birds.
  • Encourage food self-sufficiency, both personally (growing your own food) as well as in community (harvesting and giving back organically-grown seeds to the seed library to further a sustainable cycle).
  • Help preserve biodiversity, and increase populations of native pollinators (birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and insects) by planting native flowering plants that provide nectar and pollen, and refuge.
  • Increase equity in our community—access to free seeds increases food security and food justice.
  • Improve health—growing food in healthy soil can provide more nutrient-rich food than commercial farming.
  • Respond to climate change—there’s nothing more local than harvesting from your own yard or balcony.
  • Provide education on growing food, healthy soil, saving seeds, and related topics.
  • Foster a sense of community among San Mateo’s “urban farmers”.