RPL first library in Sask. to receive music instrument lending program

The program provides instruments such as guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, portable keyboards, bongo, violin, xylophone and the doumbek. Jon Guignard / Global News

Regina residents will soon be able to borrow more than just books from Regina Public Library (RPL).

On May 16, Sun Life Financial announced RPL will be the first library in Saskatchewan to receive its Musical Instrument Lending program, giving people a chance to borrow musical instruments.

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Saskatchewan natives and Juno-Award winning band, The Sheepdogs were on hand to announce the details of the program, in addition to Regina’s Mayor Michael Fougere, the assistant vice-president, philanthropy & sponsorships of Sun Life Financial Paul Joliat, the library director and CEO of the Regina Public Library Jeff Barber and the chair and board of directors for the Regina Public Library Sean Quinlan.

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“We’re delighted. This is a banner day for the RPL. It’s another major program, and it’s going to give the youth and adults of the city who can’t necessarily afford musical instruments an opportunity to come and try out various instruments,” said Quinlan.

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When asked how the lending process will work, Quinlan said that anyone looking to use instruments will need a library card. Members can walk into the library and either put the instrument on hold, or borrow it at no charge. You will get that instrument for three weeks, much like a book, and if it’s not on hold for somebody else, you will have the option to extend the time period for another three-weeks.

The program will be offered in two RPL locations, according to Quinlan. The first location being the Central Library at 2311 12th Avenue, and the other, the Sherwood Village Branch at 6121 Rochdale Boulevard.

Joliat presented a $140,000 cheque on behalf of Sun Life Financial to Barber and Quinlan who confirmed the funds will be used to support the program and to purchase 150 instruments to be divided between the two locations.

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Fougere said the program gives vision to what the library is all about.

“The library isn’t just about books. It’s about bringing people together. Any chance that you can provide accessible instruments for people to play, all the better,” said Fougere.

Barber said the program means a great deal to the RPL, and believes that learning and creating music is difficult to access for many.

“It makes sense that the RPL would grow our collection by including musical instruments. Music is enriching, it fosters connections that fills us with joy and it even makes us smarter,” said Barber.

“With this program, aspiring musicians can grow and have fun. This is a partnership that means a great deal to the RPL,” he added.

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Joliat said the process took about six months to get everything ironed out.

In addition to presenting a cheque to Barber and Quinlan on behalf of Sun Life Financial for $140,000, Joliat also gifted a guitar that was painted by David Arrigo, a Canadian artist, to celebrate and commemorate what he knows will be a “fantastic partnership.”

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The guitar will be presented in a display case at the main entrance of the RPL on 12th Avenue.

Special guests, The Sheepdogs, donated three signed Les Paul guitars to the program, and guitarist Ewan Currie shared his excitement on the program.

“It’s very exciting seeing this program. There’s a lot of value to playing an instrument, learning a skill, learning the value of dedication and committing yourself to learning a creative endeavor,” said Currie.

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Currie recalled spending time learning to write and play, saying it was a valuable experience for him.

“I spent a lot of time alone in my room learning to write songs, learning how to play, and it was a very valuable experience,” he added, “We were very fortunate to always have access to musical instruments, but that’s not always the case. I think this is a tremendous community service and we’re very proud.”

According to the Sun Life Financial website, the program is offered in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Kitchener, Ottawa and Fredericton and provides instruments such as guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, portable keyboards, bongo, violin, xylophone and the doumbek.

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