I Just Checked This Guitar Out of the Philly Library for Free

The new instrument loan program began on Monday.

The author doing his best to rock out.

The author doing his best to rock out.

In addition to books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs and sheet music, you can now check musical instruments out of the Philadelphia Free Library. The program launched on Monday, and I was one of the first people in line at the desk in the music department.

All I had to do was present my tattered library card, and a few minutes later, I walked out with a Fender Squire Stratocaster guitar with strap, Fender Frontman 10G amp, 1/4-inch instrument cable, gig bag, clip-on digital tuner, and a few guitar picks made out of old library cards. The amp has a built-in overdrive circuit, and though the amp is small, it gets loud enough to really annoy your neighbors, as I’m sure I’ll be demonstrating later today.

The only thing not included in the package is a guitar stand, which is something the library might want to think about adding. Anyone who has ever thought that propping a guitar up against a couch was a good idea can attest that a guitar stand is essential.

You can also borrow an acoustic guitar, electric bass, mandolin, banjo and ukulele, and the loans are good for three weeks. After that, the library assesses a fine of $1 per day. And before you go lighting your guitar on fire or smashing it into the stage, cardholders are responsible for any damage or theft.

“There are just a handful of libraries internationally that loan instruments,” music librarian Perry Genovese told me.

Genovese explained that another librarian came up with the idea to loan acoustic guitars, and the full line of fretted instruments grew out of that. Staffers sent a proposal up the line to library management, and the money was found to get the instrument loan program going.

The library hopes to expand the program to include other types of instruments and also other neighborhood branches. As of right now, the instruments are only available at the Central Library at 19th and Vine.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to check out a book that actually tells you how to, you know, play the thing.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.