The Licking County Library's guitar-lending program proved so popular, library officials now are offering ukulele rentals to card-holding patrons.

The Licking County Library's guitar-lending program proved so popular, library officials now are offering ukulele rentals to card-holding patrons.

Like the guitars, the ukuleles must be checked out at the library system's downtown Newark branch, 101 W. Main St.

Barbary Sanderson, the library system's emerging-technologies and digital-content specialist, said many people have asked the library to stock child-sized guitars.

She said purchasing smaller guitars would limit lending for children's uses only, so library officials instead decided to offer ukuleles, smaller instruments that are played in a similar manner to guitars.

"They have only four strings, which is easier on little fingers," she said.

The ukuleles were made available April 13, and they have been checked out a little slower rate than the guitars, Sanderson said.

"We've done advertising in the library and even though it's been more of soft launch, all the instruments currently are checked out," she said.

The library began offering guitars to check out in December, and it was a popular program from the very first day, Sanderson said.

The library received a grant from the First Federal Foundation to help purchase seven acoustic guitars and two electric models with small amplifiers from Guitar Guys of Heath.

The guitars were purchased for $150 apiece, Sanderson said.

A grant from the Lindorf Family Foundation funded the purchase of the six ukuleles for $100 apiece, she said.

Brandon Noyes, one of the owners of Guitar Guys, said he was glad to partner with the library and offered the instruments at a reduced rate.

Guitar Guys also sent a teacher to the library to provide four weeks of guitar lessons.

Sanderson said each class was filled with 10 people, ranging in age from 5 years old to past retirement age.

She said the lessons were offered free to participants through their library memberships.

"It was really successful and everybody seemed to enjoy it," Sanderson said. "They learned a lot."

Each instrument is loaned with a carrying bag, a tuner and an instructional booklet. The electric guitars include a small amplifier.

Sanderson said the instruments may be loaned for up to four weeks, with the possibility of renewing for a second four weeks if no one is on a waiting list to borrow an instrument.

Noyes said the program has been positive for the library and it could be good for his business, as well.

"We think it will generate some excitement for playing," he said.

Noyes, whose last name is pronounced like the word noise, said the library program could encourage people who want to learn more to seek out lessons locally or to purchase their own instruments.

"It gives them access to try it out without making a financial commitment," he said. "Hopefully, they'll have fun with it and won't want to stop."

Pataskala residents in the Licking Heights school district are served by the Licking County Library system, and the library district primarily supports them with a bookmobile and online services.

The Pataskala Public Library, which is funded by residents in the Southwest Licking school district, is not in the Licking County Library system, Sanderson said.

A Licking County Library card is necessary to borrow an instrument, and children 16 years old and younger must be accompanied by an adult, Sanderson said.

For more information on the Licking County Library's instrument-lending program, call 740-349-5550 or visit lickingcountylibrary.info.