Liverpool library launches G-nome project

— Got a garden gnome you would like to retire but just can't bear to throw away? The Liverpool Public Library is looking for a few good gnomes who would like to relocate to the library's new wildlife habitat garden.

The garden, a National Wildlife Foundation-certified backyard wildlife habitat, is situated behind the library's popular dinosaur rain garden at the library, 310 Tulip St. in Liverpool.

Library Director Jean Armour Polly got the idea of a "Gnome Retirement Home" after hearing about the "Hobbit Village" at Federation Forest State Park in Washington state. Several years ago, apparently inspired by the park's J.R.R Tolkien-esque landscapes, people started dropping off garden gnomes in one particular area. Now the trail to the informal village is something of a tourist destination, according to Polly.

The library is offering a garden retirement spot to up to 25 garden gnomes looking for a new home. Polly says the gnomes must be well-behaved and not naughty. "No naughty gnomes will be accepted," she stressed.

Will the gnomes be cataloged and available for circulation? "We thought about that, Polly said. "But then we would have to come up with a classification 'gnomenclature,' and anyway a returned gnome would not fit in the book drop. We hope people will just enjoy them outside in the garden."

Other gnome sanctuaries exist worldwide. There is one in Italy, one in France, and one in Auburn California. But this may be the world's first such facility at a public library.

"Among other things, libraries have had a long association with fairytales, mythology, and the fantasy genre, which is admired by both children and adults," Polly said. She points to the current fascination with miniature fairy gardening as an example that "invites imagination to grow alongside the plants."

"We expect that by next spring children as well as adults will delight in visiting the garden to spot the gnomes along with the squirrels, butterflies, and hummingbirds," said Polly.

The library staff is looking for donations of family-friendly gnomes in good condition. They may be dropped off at the library during open hours and will be placed in the garden as weather and space permits.

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