Check out a musical instrument from the Free Library! I just did!

By Julie B. RSS Mon, September 26, 2016

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!

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Are you taking instrument donations?
Toni - Philadelphia
Monday, September 26, 2016

Hi, I wanted to know more about new library lending options at the FLoP. I have a sewing machine that I don't use very often and was wondering if you would be interested in branching into sewing materials.
Rebecca Weixler - Philadelphia
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Yes! We'd love to expand the collection past fretted strings to include other instrument families, not to mention adding student-scale and left-handed instruments to make the collection as accessible as possible. If you'd like to help us along and have an instrument or instrument accessory in good condition you'd like to donate--an acoustic guitar sitting in your attic or a working guitar pedal you no longer use--thanks for thinking of us! You can use use the following link:
admin - Philadelphia
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I saw from the previous blog post that you can't place a hold on an instrument through the catalog, but I wondered, is the Music Department maintaining any kind of informal waiting list?
Claire - Philadelphia
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hi Claire, We are currently maintaining a waiting list. Patrons may contact or call 215-686-5316 to inquire about an instrument loan or when certain instruments may become available.
admin - Philadelphia
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Looking for cello 1/2 size
Hedy pettine - Montgomery county
Friday, October 7, 2016

Some studies suggest that music lessons provide children with important developmental benefits beyond simply the knowledge or skill of playing a musical instrument. Research suggests that musical lessons may enhance intelligence and academic achievement, build self-esteem and improve discipline.A study noted that children who learn to write music had an increase in their spatial-temporal reasoning. This also occurs when people of any age listen to certain music. So if you wish to learn some lessons of your favorite musical instrument, visit this reference site,, to know more about it.
Paul Owen
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Is there any way I can rent musical instruments from Co, USA
Jess - Grand Junction CO
Friday, November 5, 2021

I would like to check out a piano keyboard
Izaiah Martinez - Santa ana,CA
Sunday, September 4, 2022

My husband loves to instruments and I want to surprise him by getting him one for a day or two and truly hear him play because the one he has is messed up. I love hearing him play. I know it would be the most amazing moment for him. Please respond back at your earliest convenience. My number is 445-207-3523. My name is Jenny K. I hope to hear from you.
Jennifer Olewnik - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Saturday, January 7, 2023