The Music Department at Parkway Central Library is launching the Musical Instrument Collection (MIC), an instrument lending library for library cardholders. In the past few years, the Free Library has begun lending out other innovative resources, like tablets, e-readers, and cake pans. In this spirit, starting TODAY, customers will be able to check out six fretted string instruments—electric guitar, electric bass guitar, acoustic electric guitar, ukulele, banjo, and mandolin.
I got a sneak peak of this incredible new program when I was granted a special trial period with the MIC’s new mandolin. As one who has never played a stringed instrument before, this was quite the musical adventure!
Music librarian Perry Genovesi not only gave me an overview of the instrument itself, including how to tune it, but he also helped me find some essential starting-out materials: Mandolin for Dummies and Alfred’s Basic Mandolin Method. Somewhat optimistically, he also pulled Pop Classics for Mandolin, should I find I was secretly a mandolin prodigy during my three weeks with the instrument.
The beginning of my road to becoming a musician was short but enjoyable. Relying solely on the guidebooks, I earnestly plucked away at the mandolin’s eight strings, trying to produce something that sounded ‘like music’, if not actually beautiful. The biggest skill I (somewhat) mastered was tuning my instrument, using the electric tuner that came in my gig bag. This helped me learn the strings of the mandolin as well as start to develop an ear for their different sounds. I didn’t have as much success, sadly, with learning to actually play those strings …
My biggest setback was my inability to read standard music. Even so, the guidebooks offered another mode of musical notation: tablature, or TAB for short, which uses lines to designate each string and shows where each finger should go. With some more guidance and time, I perhaps could have internalized this form of notation better—but for this go-round, I didn’t get much farther than strumming a few chords
When I confessed to Perry I hadn’t advanced much in my mandolin skills, he still encouraged, “You know more than you did two weeks ago!” Which I proudly do!
As of today, customers can check out an instrument for up to three weeks. In addition to the instrument itself, each check out will include a gig bag with a tuner, and some recycled Free-Library-card guitar picks to keep, plus a small amp for the electric guitars. All customers may check out the instruments, including borrowers under 18, provided the customer is in good standing. All users will be required to sign a lending agreement upon check out.
Come be among the first library customers to take advantage of the MIC! This new opportunity at the Free Library certainly opened a new, once inaccessible door for me; I encourage others, skilled musicians or no, to come give it a strum!