'Lending library' lets aspiring Ontario musicians borrow instruments
A unique library lets aspiring Ontario musicians foster a love of music by trying out instruments before committing to their hefty price tags.
The Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Instrument Lending Library, known to visitors as Joe's MILL, is a registered charity in Kingston, Ont.
The library, which houses more than 750 instruments, was founded by Kingston musician Wally High in memory of Chithalen, a bass player who performed in several local bands.
Chithalen came up with the concept of a library of instruments, but died before he could bring the idea to life, president and librarian Roger Eccleston told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.
"It was a dream of Joe's that everybody should have the opportunity to learn to play music," Eccleston said.
Visitors can borrow guitars, violins, drum kits, trombones, whistles, pianos and more at the library, which is run by local volunteers. Eccleston said the most requested instruments are the alto saxophone, cello and ukulele.
The library is available to anyone who lives within a 50-kilometre radius of the MILL, located at 379 King St. W., just east of Sir John A. MacDonald Boulevard.
Users are asked to register, providing a photo ID, a document showing their address and a one-time registration fee of $10, which helps offset operating costs.
Most of the instruments have been donated to the library, but some of the money goes to acquiring new instruments.
There are no charges or fees to borrow an instrument, and loans are issued on a four-week basis, but extensions can be arranged. The library also offers workshops hosted by Kingston musicians.
Currently, more than 2,500 people are registered at Joe's MILL, Eccleston said.