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Regional library launches ukulele lending program

Guitars and ukuleles now available at all Thompson-Nicola Regional Library branches

The Thompson-Nicola Regional Library has launched a new ukulele lending program, adding to the guitar lending program it launched earlier this year.

Beginning Wednesday (Dec. 14), ukuleles will be available at all branches of the TNRL throughout the region.

"It just made sense that we would extend the program to include ukuleles," said chief librarian Judy Moore.

Moore said the guitar lending program has been "highly successful," with holds placed on all 20 guitars since the program launched in April.

The ukuleles are local in origin, provided by Riversong Guitars, who also built and supplied instruments for the guitar lending program.

"Music, I think more than ever, is something that brings us all together. For children especially, to be introduced to music at their own pace, in their own communities, is a huge boon," Moore said during the program's announcement at the library on Wednesday.

Mike Miltimore, who owns and operates Riversong Guitars, said it felt like a dream to make such a difference in his hometown.

Miltimore also said he was initially worried the program would hurt sales, but that the opposite proved to be true.

Thompson-Nicola Regional District board chair Barbara Roden said the program shows libraries are not what some might remember from the past.

"Libraries are so much more and programs like the musician in residence, the guitar lending program and now the ukulele program, show that libraries, I think more than almost any other thing I can think of, have been able to adapt and change over the years. They're very nimble," Roden said.

In September, the TNRL announced its musician-in-residence program, inviting three local musicians for month-long terms at the library.

The latest and final musician-in-residence is Tina Hebner, who has been performing and teaching the ukulele and guitar for more than 20 years.

"Being able to share my love of music with people, just hanging out playing and teaching, has been absolutely fabulous," Hebner said at Wednesday's announcement.

Hebner lauded the program and also the quality of the instruments supplied by Miltimore, who recently won the Best Acoustic Guitar award from Musical Merchandise Review magazine.

The quality of the instrument is important, Hebner said.

"People get the opportunity to not only borrow these instruments and play them, but to play high quality instruments, that can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself and your playing," she said.

The borrowed ukuleles are available at TNRL libraries in Ashcroft, Barriere, Cache Creek, Clearwater, Clinton, Kamloops, Logan Lake, Merritt, North Kamloops, Savona and on the mobile Bookmobile.

To request a ukulele, visit the library or go online to tnrl.ca/ukulele-lending.