About Our Teaching Garden and Teaching Prairie

Begun in 2021 as a partnership between the Library, the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, and the University of Illinois Extension Cook County North Master Gardeners, our Teaching Garden is an outdoor classroom for hands-on, multi-generational learning, as well as a quiet place to relax and read. Located in the southeast corner of the Library’s upper parking lot, the Garden is fully accessible, and offers comfortable seating in a beautiful setting.

Teaching Garden Spring Cleanup
Tuesday, May 14, 9:30-11 AM
Let’s get outside! Work side by side with local Master Gardeners and learn what gardens need to prepare them for planting. Registration suggested.

Teaching Garden Planting Days
Friday, May 17, 10-12
All ages w/caregiver
Bring your little ones, and we’ll teach them how to plant a garden. Work side by side with Master Gardeners. Gloves and tools provided. Registration suggested.
Saturday, May 18, 1-3
Work side by side with Master Gardeners to learn basic gardening skills, and help us plant our garden! Gloves and tools provided. Registration suggested. 

Teaching Garden Workshops
Tuesdays, 9:30-11 AM
Local gardeners provide hands-on instruction in seasonal gardening tasks. From 9:30-10 we’ll focus on basic garden maintenance. From 10-11, we’ll focus on a specific gardening topic. Meets weekly starting Tuesday, May 28, weather permitting. Registration suggested.
May 28: Gardening with kids
June 4: Pruning and woody plant care
June 11: Dividing and transplanting bulbs
June 18: Controlling spreading perennials
June 25: Garden crafts
July 9: Gardening with kids
July 16: Three Sisters and square foot gardening
July 23: Growing and harvesting herbs
July 30: Tomato troubleshooting
August 6: Gardening with kids
August 13: TBD
August 20: Flower harvesting and preserving
August 27: Garden mosaic craft
September 10: Gardening with kids
September 17: Seed collecting
September 24: Seed collecting
October 1: Harvesting
October 8: Goodnight Garden Storytime; harvesting
October 15: Chop and drop; putting a garden to bed

2024 Seed Library Open Now! 

The Seed Library reopened on Thursday, February 1. Please visit the links below to learn about what we're offering, and check out our seed suggestions on the Garden Spot. All produce seeds are non-GMO and organic. Happy growing! 





Seed Library FAQ

Q. What’s in the Seed Library?
A. We stock a variety of native and common garden seeds. Produce seeds are non-GMO and organic, and we try to offer both very common seeds (like basil and cosmos) as well as seeds you may not commonly see in stores.

Q. What do the seeds cost?
A. Seeds are free!

Q. Do I need to have a library card to use the Seed Library?
A. The Seed Library is available for all to use, with or without a library card. 

Q. I have questions about seeds that you’re offering. Who can I ask? 
A. The Illinois Master Gardener Help Desk is an excellent resource if you have questions about your garden or particular plants. If you have questions about our program or particular seeds we’re offering, you can contact librarian Liz Kirchhoff at

Q. Do you take seed donations?
A. Yes! You can drop seeds off at the Customer Service desk at the front of the Library. Please include the name of the seed and a way for us to contact you in case we have questions.

Q. How long is the Seed Library available?
A. The Seed Library is available until we run out of seed stocks for the year. Last year we gave our last seeds in April, so we encourage you to visit early!

Seed Library Resources

Seed Sources:

Johnny's Selected Seeds

Main Street Seed

Prairie Moon Nursery

True Leaf Market


Helpful Info

ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants for Pets

Germinating Native Seeds

Master Gardener Help Desk


Selecting Seeds

It’s nearly time for our Seed Library Launch, and we know that lots of you have been looking at the online lists of the seeds we’re offering this year. With 55 different options, though, we know it can get overwhelming. We’re here to help! Here are some options for tricky ...


Helping Your Garden in a Heat Wave

It’s hot out there! When the weather is this hot and sticky, there are a few things that you can do to help your garden. For the most part, high temperatures are no big deal if it’s just a day or two, but more prolonged heat waves can stress and sometimes ...


What Will You Grow?

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through the growing season! Here at the Library, we’re already thinking ahead to what seeds we’d like to offer in the Seed Library beginning in February of 2024. Over the next month, we’ll start ordering seeds from our vendors, gathering from plants growing ...


Ways to Winter Sow

Even though it’s a method that’s been around for years, winter sowing has recently drawn lots of attention as an easy and frugal way to start strong seedlings outdoors much earlier than you’d normally be able to in the Midwest. There are lots of different ways to do this, and it’s ...


Read more from the Garden Spot blog


The Teaching Garden and Teaching Prairie classes have ended for the season. Our outdoor programs generally resume in mid-May. Visit our Events Calendar in early Spring for upcoming sessions. 


Local Gardening News

2024 Periodical Cicadas Info

2024 Seed Library Suggestion Form

Aggressive Plants

BALibrary Garden & Environment Webinars

Composting 101

Conservation @ Home

Garden Design Basics

Illinois Native Plant Database

Jumping Worm Fact Sheet

The Barrington Area Library is proud to announce that it has received a coveted four star ranking in the annual Star Libraries report, published by Library Journal. We are one of only 17 libraries in Illinois to receive a star ranking this year.

For the 2019 report, Library Journal surveyed 6,333 public libraries in the United States, and 261 received star rankings. This places the Barrington Area Library in the top 4% of libraries nationwide, based on six major service measures – physical material circulation, electronic circulation, number of visits, program attendance, public computer users, and wifi sessions, all per capita - from the 2016-2017 fiscal year. As in past years, BALibrary performed exceptionally well in overall circulation (top 2% nationwide) and e-circulation (top 1% nationwide), which comes as no surprise to our staff: we are proud to serve a community of engaged and curious readers of all ages.

The top 30 libraries in each of Library Journal's nine expenditure categories receive three, four, or five star rankings. See the full Star Libraries report online. The Barrington Area Library received three star rankings in 2010, 2017, and 2018.

We are pleased to share our latest annual report, covering the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

This year's report highlights the many ways in which the Library's programs and services support our mission statement and goals.

Explore how the Library stimulates imagination, creates (young) readers, develops information fluency, and fosters lifelong learning, all in comfortable physical and virtual settings.

Discover a group of young makers changing lives around the world, then discover how great stories and screen-free time change lives right here in the Barrington area.

Learn about Library technology, like the BALibrary app, Creativebug software, and genealogy services, and learn about improvements made to the Library building and campus this past year.

Take note of the many ways in which the Library collaborates with both nonprofit and business organizations, building relationships that inspire innovation and real world problem-solving.

We share this annual report with our thanks for your ongoing support and encouragement.

Read the report online below, or download a printable PDF.


Once again, our top-notch Youth Services librarians have compiled a list of their favorite books, published in 2019, for young readers. We hope you and your family find some new favorites here, too!

Our 2019 TEDxBarringtonAreaLibrary speakers: Leslie Ferris Yerger, Andy Milne, and *Star Cunningham.

We're thrilled to bring you our 2019 TEDxBarringtonAreaLibrary videos, from three great speakers with powerful ideas to share.

Listen to and learn from:

Star* Cunningham: One Dot At A Time

Leslie Ferris Yerger: Probably Benign

Andy Milne: This Is Not Your Parents' Health Class