Now you can borrow musical instruments from Oxford Lane Library

Ukuleles, banjos and acoustic guitars can now be checked out alongside books, movies and magazines at the Oxford Lane Library.

The new program is just one examples of how libraries across the country are making innovative additions to their lending collections to attract more patrons, Branch Manager Rebecca Smith said.

Instruments and even tools are among the things libraries are trying to offer, she said.

“We thought we would first try with instruments,” Smith said. “We posted a poll on our Facebook group and got an overwhelming positive response and based on that support, we went for it.”

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The Friends of the Oxford Lane Library “generously supported” the program, she said.

Librarian Chad Wonsik, a musician himself, took leadership in the project. He attended workshops and researched what other libraries do with regard to loaning musical instruments.

The program started with stringed instruments and includes acoustic guitars, classical guitars, mandolins, banjos and ukuleles for a total of 15 instruments.

“Guitar is a popular instrument. We wanted to start with a type. We hope to branch out to other types of instruments,” Wonsik said. “Lots of public libraries have guitars and ukuleles. We took a step forward with other stringed instruments.”

He said he hopes the program will offer patrons an opportunity to try an instrument and give them a chance to find out their level of interest without the initial expense.

“We hope to expand. It’s a pilot program. We’ll see how it goes,” Wonsik said.

So far it has gotten off to a great start. An enthusiastic crowd was on hand last week as Jim McCutcheon, also known as “The Guitar Man,” helped to kick off the new program with a performance and demonstrations of some of the instruments available for lending.

“One of the cool things about the lending program at the Lane Library is you can check it out for 28 days and learn if that’s the instrument for you,” McCutcheon said.

Within minutes of the program’s end, the first instrument had already been checked out, according to the library.

Smith said she likes that aspect of trying out an instrument and stressed there is more to the library’s musical loan program than just the instrument.

Each comes with a “gig bag,” which includes a training video and music book. The library has also made arrangements for an online teaching program — “ArtistWorks for Libraries” — to be available on the library’s website.

Borrowers under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present to check out one of the instruments. Only one instrument may be checked out per library card and it can only be renewed once.

Instruments must be returned to the Oxford library site and must be handed to a library staff member, not placed in the outside or inside book drop. A staff member will verify that the instrument and all items in the kit are returned and undamaged.

Overdue fines are $5 per day, up to a maximum of $25, and the cardholder will be charged for items not returned or damaged.

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