You may notice raised garden beds on the lawn of the Library along Morris Avenue. Soon you will see a plaque installed there that reads “The Wilson White Learning Garden.”
Installed this spring, the Wilson White Learning Garden has already produced a new generation of aspiring gardeners. Children’s Librarian Lisa O’Shaughnessy has been using the beds to run her Little Sprouts program for children grades K-5. The young students began the garden themselves by growing seedlings in pots, tending to them until they were ready to be transplanted. The group has enjoyed the fruits of their labor, sampling lettuce, green beans, and peas so far. “We look forward to the rest of our harvest this year and future garden lessons,” O’Shaughnessy said. Little Sprouts meets every Wednesday for a variety of garden lessons and visits from local gardening and sustainability experts.
Wilson White was a longtime Summit resident whose love for reading and the Library took root in childhood. Growing up on Maple Street just four blocks from the Library, White read most of the books in the children’s section by fourth grade. He was a member of the Library’s Board of Trustees from 1976-1980, serving as President in 1978. During the May 1980 Board meeting, White offered to plant and maintain a perennial garden along Morris Avenue, near where the raised garden beds sit today. The Board unanimously approved his plan. White would go on to maintain the garden for 15 years. Current Library staff member Mary Ryan remembers passing by the windows that overlooked the garden and seeing White tending to the plants.
In 2018, the Library received a letter from Wilson White that included a generous bequest. In the letter he described how much the Library meant to him throughout his life, including memories of visits as a child and into adulthood. Concerning the Library, he wrote, “I can’t think of an institution that has advanced my life so beneficially.” When the Library partnered with local Eagle Scout Anderson Lee to build outdoor garden beds along Morris Avenue, it seemed most appropriate to use White’s bequest to fund the project and name the Learning Garden in his honor.
Although White passed away in 2021, we are happy to know that his dedication to the Library and love of learning continues to inspire the community. We hope you visit the Wilson White Learning Garden soon.
— Abigail Brady, Head of Adult Services