Planning Assignment – Music Instrument Lending Program

One of the public libraries I work is the South San Francisco Public Library. About a year ago a coworker mentioned that he had checked out a ukulele from a nearby library. It was the first time I heard of a library lending out musical instruments. At the time, I thought that it would be cool if our library could loan instruments someday but I hadn’t really thought about it again until now. For this assignment, I decided to introduce a plan to implement an instrument loan program at the South San Francisco Public Library. I may actually introduce the plan at some point!

South San Francisco Public Library Grand Avenue Branch. Retrieved from

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

1. To make it possible for any resident of South San Francisco have free access to a musical instrument, especially those with limited resources.

2. To support students who have no access to music education programs or programs that have limited resources as such as instrument availability.

3. To attract more middle school and high school students to the library and have them build a rapport with library staff.

4. To support the library’s value of life-long learning.

5.  To use program as a platform to promote other music related resources such as music collections, steaming service, etc.

Description of Community you wish to engage:

The South San Francisco Public Library is located in the city of South San Francisco which is located about 15 miles south of San Francisco. There are two branches in the city, the main branch and the Grand Avenue branch, and they are part of the Peninsula Library System (PLS). PLS is a consortium of 34 public and community college libraries in San Mateo County. Both South San Francisco Public Library offers many programs and resources for children, families, and adults, but not as much as for teens and pre-teens. Both branches are in close proximity to many public schools as well a handful or private schools. The musical instrument lending program will be open to all members of the community (who have a valid library card), but targeted for teens and pre-teens. It will be especially beneficial for those who households have limited resources and have members who are involved in a music education program or who simply have an interest in learning how to play music.


About us. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Action Brief Statement 

For Patrons: 

To convince residents South San Francisco with limited resources that by visiting the library they will be able to loan musical instruments free of charge, which will allow them to pursue musical endeavors. This is important because this type of educational/recreational opportunity might not otherwise be possible. 

For staff

To convince administrators and other library staff that by implementing a musical instrument lending program, they will give the community access to a free resource which will help reduce the barrier to educational and recreational musical opportunities. This is important because free music education programs continue to downsize or be eliminated (due to budget cuts), there is disparity between high quality and low quality music education programs, and music instruments are too costly for some. The program would support the library’s mission of meeting the “informational, educational and recreational needs of our multicultural community” as well as support one of their core values of life-long value.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: 

An article written in favor of music instrument lending libraries:

Obannon’, R. (2016, April 30). An idea worth importing: Instrument lending libraries. Retrieved from

An article discussing research regarding the positive effects of music instruction on the human brain;  disparity between the availability of music programs in high-poverty and low-poverty schools the decrease in music education programs, etc.

Kase, L.M. (2014, February 6). Using Music to close the education gap. Retrived from

Examples of nearby libraries that offer music instrument rentals:

-Forbes Library (offers a variety of music instruments):

Borrow a music instrument. (n.d.). Retrieved form

-San Mateo County Libraries (offers ukulele rentals):

San Mateo County Libraries (2019, October 10.). Pickup a ukulele from your local library! Retrieved from:

Retrieved from

-Toronto Public Library (offers a variety of music instruments):

Borrow a musical instrument. (n.d.). Retrived from

Retrieved from

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

Ideas for guidelines and policies of a music instrument rental program can be inspired from the handful of libraries that already have a similar program in place.  An explanation of how the music instrument lending program works along with rules and conditions can be posted to the library’s website. Rules and conditions can be drafted up by staff and decided upon by a simple majority vote. Videos regarding how to properly take care of the instruments can be linked to the website too, like the Toronto Public LIbrary does. The videos do not have to be original content, they can be simply be videos from Youtube. 

Draft of Rules and Conditions (based on Toronto Public Library’s instrument lending policies):

Borrowing an instrument

  • Instruments can only be borrowed from either South San Francisco public library branch (Main or Grand Ave). Contact either branch to find out if the instrument you want is available.
  • Instrument must be returned to the branch that they are checked out from.
  • Make sure you have a valid South San Francisco Public Library Card.  
  • Upon checkout, you will be asked to sign a Musical Instrument Lending Agreement. For children under 18, a parent or guardian must sign the agreement.
  • Instruments must be returned to the Musical Instrument Lending Library branch that they were borrowed from.

Rules and conditions

  • You may borrow 1 instrument at a time.
  • The loan period for an instrument is 3 weeks. You are allowed 3 renewals. An instrument for up to 12 weeks in total.
  • Holds cannot be placed on instruments.
  • If you are late returning an instrument, you will be charged an overdue fine of $1 per day, with a maximum of $25.
  • If an instrument or its accessories are lost or damaged, a replacement fee will be charged.


Borrow a musical instrument. (n.d.). Retrived from

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:

Musical instruments donations can be sought from the community. Postings can be made in the library and online that let people know which types of “gently used” instruments are being sought. A few examples of instruments that would be sought are guitars, ukeles, violins, and keyboards. Perhaps instruments with mouthpieces should be avoided (e.g., saxophones, trumpets, flutes, etc.) for sanitary reasons. The South San Francisco Friends of the Library can also assist in raising funds to purchase instruments. They are a nonprofit organization that advocates for that raises money and advocates for the library. Additionally, grant funding that focus on music education can be searched for.


Friends of the Library (n.d.). Retrieved from

Action Steps & Timeline: 

Lending out music instruments can be easily piloted as long as they get approval from the Library Director and Assistant Director. The library wouldn’t have to purchase a batch of instruments, at least not initially. The library can seek instrument donations from the public in the months prior to launching the pilot. Too much time does not need to be spent on the details of the program before giving it a try. As Stephens (n.d.) recommends, when rolling out a new program or service staff should try not to overthink plans because of the fast pace at which things like programs and events occur at libraries. If program does not get approval, staff can come up with other creative ways to support music education programs and community members with an instrument in music.

Rough Timeline

November/December 2019 

-Create flyers for programs and draft promotional social media posts. 

-Introduce program to South San Francisco Friends of the Library and give them promo materials 

January 2020 

-Begin to seek donations from the public.

February/March 2020 – 

-Staff training on program

April 2020 

-Pilot program launch

July 2020

-Official launch of program (if pilot is successful)


Stephens, M. (n.d.). The hyperlinked library: Planning for participatory services .INFO 287. Retrieved from:

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

The music instrument loan program will not require extra staffing. Bar codes and RFID tags would need be be put on each instrument and a record would need to be created in our ILS though. I am willing to take care of these tasks myself during my regularly scheduled off desk hours, but staff in the Technical Services department are welcome to help.

Training for this Technology or Service:  

Very little staff training would be required. Informing staff about the basics of how the program can be carried out can be accomplished in just a few sessions during the weekly staff meetings. I would be happy to host the training sessions. During training, staff would be informed on where the instruments will be stored, the rules and conditions of the program, how to properly check them out to patrons, etc. 

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

The program can be promoted both inside the library and online via the library’s website and social media sites (Instagram and Facebook). Inside the library, flyers van be posted in display cases and smaller flyers can me made available for patrons to take home. On promo materials (and on the website) a program launch date can be stated to help stir up excitement. Social media posts counting down the days until the official launch of the program can be created too (e.g., “3 More Days Until The Launch of Our Music Lending Program”). Also, an instrument (or a few) can be displayed in a visible location such as next to the main service desk with a display that reads something along the lines of “Ask us about our new instrument lending program.” The basics of how the program works can be posted near the instruments on display too. To help spread the word outside of the library, library staff can visit places such as local schools to promote the program. And after the program starts, the library can continue to promote that they seek donations for “gently used instruments.”


Staff should be encouraged to ask for verbal feedback each time a patron returns an instrument to the library. Feedback forms can also be given to patons each time they check out an instrument and they can politely be asked to fill out the surveys. One of the questions that can be asked is, “What other instruments would like to see available in the future?” This can help give insight on how the program should expand at a later time. Online, the comments and views of social media posts regarding the program can be taken a look at. Patrons can be encouraged to post to social media and use a specific hashtag to to show how the instrument is enriching their lives. How many times the instruments are checked out will be easy to track in our ILS software (Sierra). Each instrument can have a barcode and RFID tag. Whether a new or existing service, its success must continue to be evaluated and it must be determined if the original goals of the service are being met (Casey and Stephens, 2016).


Casey, M. & Stephens, M. (2016, April 22). Measuring progress. Retrieved from

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