And the Beat Goes On

. October 1, 2014.

If you’re looking for literary resources, kids books, DVDs, CDs, and other media, then the Ann Arbor District Library is certainly a good place to start. But if you’re picturing worn out technology and crumbling book covers, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The Ann Arbor Library continues to expand on borrowing opportunities through its many nontraditional collections. These services give the public access to a number of different tools and resources including art prints, games, home tools, and telescopes, among other items. “We're looking for things that our users can't generally get anywhere else, a unique value in the community,” said Eli Neiburger, deputy director of the Ann Arbor District Library.

Music Tools on Loan

The library’s newest stock of resources, the Music Tools collection, offers library members a unique opportunity to get their hands on innovative music and sound devices. The collection includes effects pedals, synthesizers, and acoustic percussion instruments—music tools for musicians, teachers, and hobbyists. “We work with local musicians when we're testing gear to get their feedback on what would be good additions to the collection,” said Neiburger. The website for the Music Tools collection boasts over sixty devices including something called a stylophone, a synthesizer named after Orson Wells, and even a music sequence program written for the original Game Boy. 

The wide scope of devices available through this collection has attracted a range of interest. “We have definitely heard from musicians who are thrilled to get to try this stuff out,” said Neiburger, “and from teachers who have used them in the classroom.” In addition to musicians and teachers, students, parents, and hobbyists are also taking advantage of this collection. “We're here to get it into your hands. Said Eli Neiburger, “what you do with it is up to you!” 

Part of the appeal of these resources is also about access. Not only are the tools unique and curated, they are also often extremely expensive to buy or rent. A machine called the Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer, for example, retails online for several hundreds of dollars. This service allows access to tools and programs for many who would not be able to experience those resources otherwise. The collection emphasises programming that extends beyond the traditional ideas libraries offerings. The resources provide ample hands on educational opportunities for library members and visitors. 

Progressive Mission

This type of progressive programming and advanced access echoes the AADL’s mission, which calls for public ownership of shared resources and efforts to sustain the value of library services “through the use of traditional and innovative technologies.” Eli Neiburger views the unique resources, like those available through the Music Tools collection, as essential to this mission, as a way for the system of publicly shared resources to remain relevant in an age of readily available digital media. “As media becomes more ubiquitous, AADL is adding unique value to the community by making these innovative services available through traditional methods,” said Neiburger. “In other words, offering a Theremin for checkout is right in our wheelhouse.”

Music tools, along with tools and resources from the other library collections, are available for loan free to all library cardholders. Those interested can inquire with the downtown branch or visit the Music Tools section of the AADL website for a complete list of available resources. 

Ann Arbor District Library, 343 South Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104, (734) 327-4200, aadl.org

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