Guitars at the Library? Its Gonna Be Freaking RAD!!

I thought I’d share an update on the whole Guitar Lending Library at my library. It’s been a long journey but I think we are almost there. A whole lot of awesome has happened since we started this back in October. If you want to read about the genesis of the project you can check out the link to it here.

The first thing that changed is that we decided to not get our guitars from Guitar Center. I’d like to say that I love Guitar Center, but they didn’t really give me that level of service I was looking for when I went and told them I wanted to buy 15 guitars. I mean, I’m buying 15 guitars! At least sound like you want me to buy them from you.

So… I went and bought them from a great local guitar shop called Gelb Music. They totally bent over backwards to help me out. They sold me great guitars at a great price and I couldn’t ask for better service. I purchased Hohner Classical guitars, with a gigbag, tuners, extra strings, wall hangers, and I’m going go back and buy some capos too. I’ll let you in on a little secret too… They gave me a better price than guitar center!

I took the guitars up to the central library office and our great cataloger Ida hooked me up with the item record, and loan rules and all that. The guitars check-out for 8 weeks, they have a five dollar a day fine up to $50.00, and can be renewed, but can’t be put on hold. There are various reasons for all this, and if you’re interested in the finer details, I’ll lay that all out in a later post. (If anyone cares)

In preparation of the guitars arrival, we had county maintenance install the hangers. When the guitars finally came in after all the processing (RFID, Barcodes, etc…) we hung them up to be ready for our first round of guitar group lessons.

Our group lessons are being taught through a great partnership with a member of a local band called Vintage Music Collective named Justin Phipps. This partnership came about after their band played at the library and we found out that Justin taught lessons in the local schools. Justin was also the one who recommended the Hohner guitars and Gelb Music since that’s who he gets his guitars through.

Overall, I’m pretty stoked about this project so far. We don’t start checking them out until June 15th and I’m leaving a lot of details out of this post. In a future post, I’m going show you our loan agreements, staff guitar training guides, and various other details of the project.

-This project was made possible through the Eureka! program and an LSTA grant


Get ready for ALA in New Orleans with this great library gear!!
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Partnerships = Library Awesome!

I’ve been thinking about some of our libraries most successful programs and services that we offer. I realized that almost all of the most successful ones have come from partnerships that have been cultivated by the staff. These partnerships have led to larger program numbers, a wider array of programs, and increased services and collections. Even more importantly, we are being offered money and resources to provide some things that we wouldn’t have been able to provide before. The following list are some of the partnerships we have at EPA Library.

Literacy Fair
East Palo Alto is holding its first ever Literacy Fair called Reading Rainbow in the Park. This came about through a partnership with the Stanford Alumni Association. We were contacted by a liaison from this group who had the idea for a fair and came to us for help. We are providing many of the books and giveaways as well as some of the entertainment and they are providing the organizing of the event itself.

Health and Wellness Programs
We have a local community health organization that provides a lot of the medical services in the area and we offer them a space for community outreach and education about health issues. They especially do many programs for our seniors. My librarians work with this organization to bring those presentations to our library.

Guitar Lending Library
This partnership isn’t complete yet, but it bears mentioning. I received a grant to circulate guitars at the library and one of my librarians brought in a band called the Vintage Music Collective to perform. One of the members of this group teaches music lessons in EPA through their non-profit called Live in Peace and we will be providing the guitars while he provides the lessons.

Catered Events
One of my librarians works closely with an organization called Jobtrain that provides vocational training in the Culinary Arts. The community members who are involved in this program need somewhere to showcase their culinary skills and talents and we have events where food is always welcome. So, these students “get to” provide food and food services to some of our larger events.

Seed Library
This is one of the few ones that I was the one who approached a local organization for. Our Library offers a seed library to the public that was modeled after the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library. When I heard about the library in Richmond I looked around in our community and found the local gardening non-profit called Collective Roots that runs the Farmer’s Market. When I told them about the seed library they jumped at the chance and we now offer seeds for “check-out” from our library. We also have plans to expand to tools for gardening and they provide gardening programs from our library.

Poet Library
An organization called School After School for Successful Youth (SASSY) is an offshoot of the jobtrain organization. The students in this program create a large amount of art, literature, and poetry and they need a space to display their work within the community. We are simply giving them a wall to display the work of the community members. Eventually, (they don’t know this yet) I want to expand this partnership to bound and cataloged materials for circulation. Sort of, a local authors collection, but published and provided only by the library. I did something similar when I was an elementary school librarian and I think it would work well with this kind of partnership.

East Palo Alto History Project
We are working with Stanford students to create a history of EPA mural across the back wall of the library. This mural will show the history of East Palo Alto through the eyes of the library as it has moved and changed over the last 75 years. The movement and changes that occurred in the library parallel a lot of what has happened here and is very reflective of the changes in the community.

We have many more, but those are the ones that I am most excited about. Basically, I’ve figured out my job in this community is to find ways to say yes to as many things as I can then figure out how to make it work. While I might say “not yet,” I almost never say no to a community member unless the service they want to provide lies outside the scope of librarianship or community building.

What I want to know is-
1) What partnerships are you building in your community?
2) What would you say no to?
3) What are some of your dream partnerships?



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Seed Library Opening Day (video)

Here is a video of our seed library at EPA Library.

More information about seed libraries can be found from our great model organization Richmond Grows.



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I’m Starting a Seed Library at My Library

This is the Press Release or this project. I will post more details for folks interested in starting one. But really, the best instructions for starting a seed library come from Richmond Grows. They have instructions, videos, and everything you need to put yours together.

Just as one seed can produce many seeds, one idea can change many lives. Free public libraries were revolutionary in their time because they provided access to books and knowledge that had not previously been available to a large segment of the population. A free seed lending library can also provide people with a chance to transform their lives and communities by providing access to fresh, healthy food that may not otherwise be available.

What is a Seed Library?
A seed library is a lot like a traditional library in a number of ways. Patrons of the seed library need to sign up, learn how to “check-out” seeds, and, of course, the library is free! The big difference is that instead of checking out books or DVDs like a traditional library, patrons can check out seeds to grow in their gardens at home. While, we don’t expect anyone to return the seeds to the library, we do hope that the residents of East Palo Alto learn to grow and share their fresh fruits and vegetables.

How Did it Start?
The East Palo Alto Seed Library began as an idea spurred by the Richmond Grows Seed Library at the Richmond Public Library. You can check this library out at www.richmondgrows.org. The EPA Library partnered with a great local non-profit called Collective Roots to bring a similar idea to the residents of EPA.

Who is Our Great Partner?
Collective Roots is a local non-profit that “seeks to educate and engage youth and communities in food system change through sustainable programs that impact health, education, and the environment.” This group is also responsible for the East Palo Alto Farmer’s Market that is held every Saturday from 2-5pm in front of the EPA YMCA. They also work with youth and adults to design and sustain organic gardens on school and community sites that are linked with kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum provided by Collective Roots.

The East Palo Alto Seed Library will be open to everyone starting April 22nd. It will provide, in addition to seeds, education about growing healthy and sustainable foods and gardens. The Seed Library is open to all residents of East Palo Alto, with no charge. It is maintained by EPA Library staff, Collective Roots, volunteers, and supported by donations.



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