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Lending Musical Instruments

by on October 6, 2016

In June  2016, the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) opened its Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library.  “The Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library at VPL is a collection of instruments that you may borrow using your Vancouver Public Library card. The collection is located at the Central Library. The instruments can be found by searching the library catalogue.”[1] In addition to Vancouver, the Toronto Public Library has also added a musical instrument lending program. Each library has about one hundred instruments.

Currently, the collection consists of mainly stringed instruments and hand drums. In particular the collection has acoustic guitars, bass guitars, violins in various sizes, ukuleles, mandolins, banjos, bongos, cajons, doumbeks, and djembes. The library is working to grow the collection by the end of the year via an instrument drive. Once these are received and processed, they too will be available for borrowing, and the library will look into starting a new drive for additional instruments.  Instruments may be borrowed one at a time for a loan period of twenty-one days.  If no one has requested that instrument, a renewal for an additional twenty-one days is available. There is a limit of two renewals.

Sandra Singh, chief librarian of VPL, sees this program as a perfect match and follow up to the Inspiration Lab that opened in 2015.  “The Inspiration Lab is dedicated to digital creativity, collaboration and storytelling featuring high-performance computers, analog-to-digital conversion, sound studios, and self-publishing and editing software.” (Vancouver Public Library 2016)  Some of the elements are recording music, converting VHS tapes to digital, and editing videos, audio, and photos. Classes are offered as well as programs organized using the resources in the lab to teach interested patrons how to use the equipment, including week long boot camps and multi-session workshops. The combination of the Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library and the Inspiration Lab will allow patrons to play and record their own music.

The patrons have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the musical instruments being added to the collection. Three days after the launch in Vancouver, every instrument has been loaned out.  To date, all are still checked out with a wait list as high as 70 patrons for some instruments.


  1. Vancouver Public Library. VPL Programs. 2016. http://www.vpl.ca/programs/cat/C1063/ (accessed September 15, 2016).

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