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Music to Their Ears

Director Gene Coppola and Head of Youth Services Kiki Durney with the collection


At Palm Harbor Library patrons of all ages can check out a musical instrument.

The library joined this growing trend in May 2015 with the grand unveiling of its David Meltzer Musical Instrument Collection.

Patrons may check out an instrument for 28 days at a time. All loans include self-teaching resources to help them learn how to play the instrument.

A number of local businesses, families and individuals helped create the collection through donations and sponsorships. Jim Terry’s Music has proved an especially beneficial partner, contributing instruments, fine tuning and ongoing maintenance.  

Though the collection resides in the library’s Youth Services section, patrons of any age may check out an instrument.

“We’ve had seniors delighted to finally try their hand at keyboarding and children squeal with delight as they finally get a chance to try the violin,” says Kiki Durney, Head of Youth Services. 

The instruments

 Musical instruments patrons can check out at Palm Harbor LibraryAvailable instruments include:

  • Guitars
  • Violins
  • Bongos
  • Dulcimers
  • Ukulele
  • Keyboard
  • Xylophone
  • Melody harp
  • Snare drum

“It’s definitely a niche collection, meaning they aren’t as popular an item as a DVD,” Durney says, “but there is a segment of our patronage that truly benefits from the opportunity to try before you buy or just loves being able to sample a variety of instruments before deciding to pursue one or another.”

The library plans to add more instruments after evaluating the first year’s circulation statistics and patron feedback.

Wind instruments, however, will remain off the list, although many patrons requested them early on.

Durney explains, “Brass, woodwinds and other instruments that get spit in them or have mouth contacts aren’t safe to circulate without spending big bucks to have them sanitized after every circ.”

Fortunately, patrons quickly understood the library’s concern. 

Space also dictates what instruments may be added to the collection. Without a safe space to store larger pieces, items like cellos and electronic amps aren’t feasible.

The biggest ongoing challenge, however, is that some people fear checking out the instruments in case they get charged for them.

To help them overcome their fears, staff reassure patrons that they will never be charged for normal wear and tear.

Changing perceptions

Overall, the collection has proven to be a success, especially in changing perceptions of Palm Harbor Library.

“This collection has really fostered the notion that we are more than a collection of books; we are here to provide goods and services that benefit the community’s needs, whatever they may be.” 


Kiki Durney plays the melody harp using a simple song sheet:

 Photo of Kiki Durney playing a melody harp

imls180.for.panel.jpgMany of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida's LSTA program is administered by the Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.