Check out Cutchogue-New Suffolk library’s new garden of technology


A walkway lined with diverse shrubs and flowers guides visitors to the doors of Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library.

The garden dates back nearly three decades and those curious to learn more about the plants growing there can now find out more with a click on their smartphones.

The library is in the process of placing signs bearing QR codes in front of each species, an idea that came from board trustee Peter Zwerlein, a master gardener. Using a QR reader app, library guests can scan the code and will be directed to a website to see a picture of the plant in question, learn its common and botanical names and get information about it. Mr. Zwerlein is compiling the information that will appear when the QR code for each plant is scanned.

A link to the Cornell University home gardening website will also be available for more detailed information on the plants in the library’s garden.

“Instead of wondering what it is and leaving here and forgetting about it, [guests] will be able to use the app, pull up the information, save it to their phone and when they get home they can, at their leisure, find out more information about [the plant],” Mr. Zwerlein said.

Mr. Zwerlein said he and Connie Cross, the library’s landscaper, began labeling the plants with white plastic tags a few months ago. Signs indicating each plant’s common and botanical name, as well as the QR code, are now being ordered.

Mr. Zwerlein said 50 signs are on order to start with, but he plans to add close to 150 by the time the project is complete. The signs, which cost $8.50 apiece, are being purchased from Plants Map, he said, adding that he hopes to have the labels by fall and the project completed by next spring.

Library director Jen Fowler said the project was approved at a board meeting earlier this month.

“It was kind of a no-brainer,” she said. “Peter’s really passionate about the library building and the grounds and we really feel like we have something special. It’s such a point of pride for the community that it really makes sense to take it to the next level.”

The garden was created in 1986 when the library underwent a renovation, according to Mariella Ostroski, a local history librarian. Ms. Cross designed the garden and has continued to maintain it since its inception.

Ms. Fowler touched upon the garden’s history as a reason the project is important.

“I also love the technology part of [the signs] because that really brings the old with the new and we’re always trying to do that here,” she said. “We have our traditional services coupled with some unique new innovative services and I think this is the perfect match of those two things.”

Although compiling the botanical information is a time-consuming activity, Mr. Zwerlein is looking forward to all it will offer library patrons.

“It’s more the educational aspect of it,” he said. “People come to the library to learn and this is just another learning opportunity.”

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