No Need to Shush, This Music is Just Fine in the Ottawa Library

There’s a lot you can snag from the stacks of the Ottawa Public Library. Bookworms, of course, have an endless supply but there’s also flicks for the cinephile, games for the gamer and CDs for the music lover.

But what if you want to make music as much as you want to listen to it?

Two branches of the OPL as well as Sun Life have joined together to bring news that's music to the ears of aspiring musicians (or anybody who wanted to rock out to something more than their air guitar!).  First launched in Toronto in April of 2016, the Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library has strummed its way into Ottawa this week with the help of Juno and Grammy winner Sarah McLachlan.

Sarah McLachlan – Photo by Andre Gagne

The Canadian songstress was on hand to help launch an initiative that will see 150 musical instruments available for people to check out. Showing how much she values the ability to spread music in this fashion, McLachlan herself donated one of her own acoustic guitars.  

“I think we all need music in our lives,” McLachlan told those gathered at the library main branch yesterday. “With the funding being pulled from the public school system for music education and many children having little or no support to learn music, this Lending Library becomes even more important.

The musician views the Lending Library as something that opens a door that should have never been closed to begin with. Ottawa is now the sixth city in Canada to be part of such a groundbreaking program and it begins on strong footing. As an organization that believes that arts and culture needs to be celebrated within our communities, not cut back from them, Sun Life made a donation of $140,000 to fund the program’s operation cost.

"We're thrilled to be able to bring this innovative program to our nation's capital as part of our Canada 150 celebrations. Music can have a profound impact on a person's life and being able to share and create music is something everyone deserves to experience," said Paul Joliat, Assistant Vice-President, Philanthropy and Sponsorships, Sun Life Financial.

Ottawa Public Library Main Branch – Photo by Andre Gagne

"At Sun Life, we're committed to building healthier, sustainable communities for life which is why we're thrilled to be able to increase access to music for more Canadians."

McLachlan touched upon the financial costs of purchasing an instrument as being one of the reasons more people perhaps don’t turn to them. The Lending Library helps alleviate that as well as gives an outlet to those simply curious at trying an instrument in the privacy of their home.

Whether you need to beef up your band or want to learn a song to secretly surprise a loved one, the Lending Library gives you plenty of choices.  Guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, violins, drums and portable keyboards are all part of the musical cornucopia you can explore. Those worried about possibly damaging your rental can rest easy. Sun Life has created a series of videos to help teach proper use, care and enjoyment of the instruments.

The two branches (Main and Nepean Centrepointe) are not looking to stop at the initial 150 instrument collection. Yesterday they launched a donation drive to add even more with those with something to share being able to drop instruments off at the branches or the Long & McQuade Hunt Club Road location.

"Music, like books, is essential to fostering curiosity and creativity," said Danielle McDonald, CEO, Ottawa Public Library. "We are thrilled to be partnering with Sun Life Financial to provide our community with the opportunity to borrow and enjoy a wide variety of instruments through this unique and inspiring program. The Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library program is a great example of how our library inspires learning, sparks curiosity, and connects people, allowing everyone to share in the joy of creating music."