Libraries Aren’t Just About Books

The Toronto Public Library is doing something fascinating again–providing a lending library of musical instruments to the public!

musicWhat a great concept. While many libraries are starting up new lending options like seed libraries, tool libraries, and technology for lend, the idea of borrowing musical instruments is a fascinating idea. Musical instruments are so expensive, and the option of trying something before putting out the money on a big purchase is a great idea, and one that could help not only young people, but adults hoping to try something new.

The library is offering these instruments with a valid library card. Maybe you’re not interested in buying that violin for your child until you know they will keep up with lessons. Or maybe you are on a limited income, and want to give your teen the chance to audition for a University music program without having to worry about borrowing an instrument from school. One would think they must have proper sanitization methods to follow before lending or borrowing instruments, but it would be a good idea to ask about this if you’re looking at playing an instrument that involves mouthpieces.

I’m sure all of the instruments have limited borrowing times, but this would also be a fun way for people to get together to learn music as a group. Music is a great way to keep the mind active, and learning a new instrument can provide a lot of satisfaction.

You can find out more information about this unique program right here.

Why would YOU borrow a musical instrument from a library?


Mystic Drumz visited us last week at the Carleton Place Town Hall Auditorium, and we had so much fun!  There were plenty of different instruments, lots of laughter and great interaction with the audience. Our young friends had a great time!


We laughed ourselves silly when the “alien” visited! Take me to your leader!


We can’t wait until our next fun library event!

The Beyonce Debate

The music world is very much like the book world in many respects. Big names garner huge sales without much effort, and little names usually need a lot of publicity to make their mark. In December, a music great did something not many people would have the nerve to try, and it worked out for her spectacularly!

If you haven’t heard about Beyonce and the self-titled album she released in mid-December, you probably don’t listen to Top 40 radio. But she did something daring—instead of months of promotion leading up to the album release, Beyonce used Instagram and posted a video and the word “Surprise!” on the day of the release. Nothing more. No one knew about the album, it had an exclusive release on iTunes (meaning, you could only buy it there), and best of all, she did no other marketing at all. The one photo caused an all-out frenzy and people went directly to iTunes to download, making it one of the top selling albums of 2013, even though it was only released in the final few weeks of the year. Amazing, by any standards!


Of course, she’s such a superstar and has such a following that it wasn’t impossible for this to succeed in her case. It was risky, but it paid off. The debate is on now, however, about other musicians doing something similar, and whether or not it would work now that it’s been done. Was it great just because it was a gimmick? Could she do the same for her next album and still do as well? Only time will tell, but the idea of not spending money on marketing has got to be throwing publicity departments everywhere into a tailspin.

The question here is whether or not companies need to be throwing HUGE publicity/marketing money behind sure-sellers who have proven themselves to have enormous followings. This idea is starting to make the rounds on forums and websites galore. Can they go with minimal marketing and still sell high, while that money could be thrown into lesser-known acts who often get very little in the way of marketing funds and publicity? Sure, record companies want all of their acts to sell big, but they don’t want to “waste” marketing money on someone who might not sell as many albums. It’s a tough decision, and certainly one that’s just been challenged.

This can all be applied to authors and publishing companies as well. If an author has already sold well and has a proven track record, more money will be spent promoting the author’s books in stores, online and through whatever media necessary.  But a new author—even one with a lot of buzz—will traditionally get less backing from their publisher for marketing. That seems a little counterproductive. Beyonce’s experiment has many wondering whether this is an old idea that might do well to change. If publishing companies spent less sending bigger authors out on book tours etc., would we stop buying those books? I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t keep looking for new books from my favourite authors just because I haven’t seen a full page ad in a magazine talking it up. But I WOULD be inclined to pick up a book by a new author that has some promotion behind it. Often, we find out about these books through word of mouth. It’s not enough, in my opinion.

The world is changing, and social media is becoming the way to connect authors/musicians with their fans. One tweet, one status update or one selfie on Instagram is often enough to generate thousands of likes and hundreds of comments. Maybe we’d do better to start focusing some social media marketing on well known names, and leave the traditional marketing to promote the lesser known.

What do you think about new creative ideas for promotion and marketing? Do you think lesser known authors would benefit from more backing, while not taking anything away from high-profile authors? Do we need to change our thinking behind promotion and social media? Join the conversation!

An Unexpected Journey

Tomorrow, most of the world will finally be able to enjoy the release of Peter Jackson’s film, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (based on the book by J.R.R Tolkien, of course). The prequel to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, this movie will follow the story of Bilbo Baggins 60 years before Frodo leaves the Shire for his adventure of a lifetime. For fans of the books and/or the movies, this is a long awaited beginning to another trilogy that is sure to set box-office records and net Jackson many awards.


The website has a lot of great information if you’re a big fan of the movies, including downloads, videos and games. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the movie or reacquaint yourself with the book (it’s slightly changed) if you want to be ready.  I don’t think I’ll hit the theatre on the release date but I’ll certainly go to see it over the holidays at some point.  It’s kind of nice to expect movies for the next few Decemebers.

If you’re in New York City this December, Radio City Music Hall will be hosting the final installment of The Lord of the Rings in Concert, a live performance of the score while the film airs onscreen!  There are also numerous performance dates across the US, so visit the site to find out more information.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to time the music to the movie in a live performance, but it would be incredibly exciting to see/hear it all happen at once. Such a special way to round out the holidays.

These two events may not be your cup of tea, but you could also go lo-tech and settle down with the original novel, THE HOBBIT, and become immersed in the story for the first time, or the tenth time. Enjoy!


Turkey Rhubarb is coming!

New Image

We’re excited that musical group Turkey Rhubarb is coming to Carleton Place on Thursday, August 13th!  The Carleton Place Public Library will be welcoming this diverse group from Guelph, Ontario with a show at the Carleton Place Town Hall Auditorium at 10am.  Tickets are already on sale at the library for $4.00 each or you can buy them at the door the morning of the show. We are expecting a nice crowd that morning so come and join us for some music, fun and laughter.  This program is appropriate for kids ages 3 – 12 and parents will enjoy it also.  You can find out more about the group, listen to some music and even purchase a CD at their site Turkey

Now playing at Carnegie Hall……

Last week, I was cataloging a new book for the juvenile section about learning to play the guitar and I was thinking that we don’t carry many books for kids about learning an instrument.  We do have a wide assortment of books in the adult section about playing the guitar, piano, and various other instruments, but fewer for children.  I guess that is because children who start an instrument are not doing so on their own, but rather are shipped off to music lessons by their parents.  Adults, on the other hand, often pick up an instrument later in life and try to learn on their own, which is why they need instructional books.  Music has been such a large part of my life that I am always on the lookout for a great music story.

Google and YouTube recently began a contest of sorts whereby amateur musicians submitted videos of themselves playing their instruments for people to view.  Thousands of people across the world were vying for their one chance to play at Carnegie Hall with what is being called “The YouTube Symphony”. Ninety-six people from 30 countries were chosen, sent music to learn and on April 15th, will gather in New York City at the world’s most famous musical venue to perform.

Google, who owns YouTube, generously paid for the tickets for each performer to join the rest of the symphony, which was decided upon much like American Idol.  Over 3000 submissions were narrowed down by music professionals to 200 finalists.  Then, YouTube watchers voted on their favourites and the 96 winners were decided.

CNN has a great video describing what went into the process, along with a few interviews with some of the winners that you can watch right here.  But if you’d really like to get into the minds and hearts of the people that submitted their videos, you’ll have to spend a few minutes watching this great video:

You can purchase tickets to this bound-to-be-great event from the Carnegie Hall website if you’ll be in New York on Wednesday night.  They’ll be performing a very eclectic program from Mozart, to Villa-Lobos to 20th century composer John Cage and a piece by Tan Dun known as his Internet Symphony #1, the “Eroica” movement.  You can hear this movement in its entirety performed last year by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Will there be more events such as this where people from around the world can do something amazing together, all being brought together through YouTube?  Probably.  Watch your computer screen for more….

Listening or hearing?

Do we really listen in this day and age?  Do we really hear what is being said to us when we’re dropping off our drying cleaning, for example, or picking up dinner from a fast food restaurant?  Or do we just hear the things we really want to hear?  That is something we were discussing just the other day at work when yet another person came in to pay for a room rental.

We rent out the Barbara Walsh room in our library to anyone who wants to use it for an event, meeting or program and we have certain room rental policies which we explain in great detail when someone asks to rent the room.   We require a deposit cheque that is separate from the room rental payment in case of damage to the room.  99.9% of the time, we give the cheque back or rip it up because there is no damage to the room, but the need for a separate cheque is our policy and we clearly state this when people rent the room.  More often than not though, renters will bring only one cheque with both fees included.  How are we supposed to give back the room rental deposit?  This is where we figure that people listen to us, but they don’t really hear (or is it hear us but they don’t really listen?).

This got me thinking about how often we do this as a culture.  Maybe our lives are far too fast-paced to really take a moment to listen, or maybe we really just don’t care as much of our lives are centered around what we want, not what others dictate we must do.  And maybe we really should take more time and listen.  I think we might be missing out.

The perfect example of this comes from a recent experiment by the Washington Post.  They sent a young man to a very central location early one January morning , a busy commuter metro station in Washington, D. C., and asked him to play his violin to see how many people would stop and listen on their way to work and how many people would just walk on by.

For 43 minutes, he performed 6 pieces of very difficult classical music while a total of 1097 people walked by.  Most of those just ignored him, a few stopped for a moment or two to listen and some even threw coins into his open violin case.  The music wasn’t well known to most people so as not to draw a crowd by sheer familiarity, and he didn’t have a sign on his case asking for money in return for the music.  He was probably just like any other street musician that any of us have seen in our lives and walked past. Except on this day, he wasn’t.

The violinist was world-famous Joshua Bell and he was playing a Stradivarius violin thought to be worth about $3.5 million.  Two days before, he had sold out a concert in Boston where the average ticket price was $100, but no one walking through the metro station that morning realized they were being treated to a concert for free, not even the people who worked in the station.

It turns out that only one woman recognized Bell and waited until the end of  a piece to say she had seen him play at the Library of Congress before and really enjoyed it.  The whole hour was secretly videotaped and even though a lot of the video is played at a fast speed so that you can get a feel for how many people just walked by, it is amazing that there were some revelations about people in this secret video.

First of all, Bell himself found that he was nervous playing in front of the commuters that morning because he knew he was trying to earn their respect….they hadn’t just come to hear him play.  He also found that the most tension filled moments were right after each piece ended.  No applause. No recognition at all.  Something that Bell is not used to, and very humbling.

It is also interesting to note that Leonard Slatkin, the  music director of the National Symphony Orchestra was asked prior to the experiment if he thought that over the course of an hour with a world-class musician performing in a crowded hall would draw a crowd, he said yes.  He also thought in that hour that the musician would most certainly make at least $150 in donations.

Did he draw the crowd?  No, only a few people stopped and only briefly.  And how much money did he make? $32 and change. (What is more interesting is that Bell was surprised by the fact that he could make $30 an hour performing in a metro station…enough to make a decent living if this was the average.)

The whole fascinating article can be read here.  Take your time reading through it.  There are wonderful moments and great insight into how we ignore beauty in our lives even when it is right in front of us. Also take a moment to read the article on Bell’s website regarding his first performance for President and Mrs. Obama.  The revelation about the violin he uses is amazing!

Maybe we really should stop and smell the roses more often!