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Kingston’s musical instrument lending library reopens

Kingston's musical instrument lending library is back open after closing its doors in December due to pandemic related restrictions. Global News

Joe’s Mill is open for business again after a third closure due to pandemic restrictions which means staff at the musical instrument lending library are once again putting smiles on the faces of Kingstonians.

Down the hallway of the first floor of the Tett Centre in Kingston lays one of the city’s hidden gems.

Joe’s Mill, an acronym for Musical Instrument Lending Library, is filled wall-to-wall-to-wall with instruments of all types.

“A lot of folks who just want to try an instrument will come in because you can borrow it for free. Try a guitar and if, maybe, guitar is not their thing, get a ukulele. You can go through a bunch of instruments and see what you like,” said Library Co-ordinator Tim Aylesworth.

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“It’s just so awesome to have this amazing inventory that’s funded entirely by donation and something that we pride ourselves on and that we’re glad to share with the community,” said borrower-turned-volunteer Sam Filion.

The mill is a living memory of Joe Chithalen, a passionate musician who spent many years playing in and around Kingston.

Following his passing in 1999, his close friends took on the task of developing what eventually became Joe’s Mill: a place where anybody can get their hands on an instrument.

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“Joe Chithalen was a really well-known musician around Kingston in the 1990s. Well loved, played with everybody, and one of the things that Joe always said was ‘Wouldn’t it be great if everybody had access to a musical instrument?,” added Aylesworth.

They reopened their doors in late January and are now looking forward to emerging from pandemic life.

Aylesworth says the mill runs almost entirely on donated instruments and that every fall they have a donation drive to help support the library.

He also says he’s looking forward to the possible return of some of the benefits for the mill that had been previously cancelled due to the pandemic.

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