Musical Instruments

MCPL's collection of musical instruments are available for eligible customers to check out. Items must be checked out and returned to the instrument’s owning branch. Loans are for 14 days and are not renewable. Currently, the only branch lending out instruments under this program is the Twinbrook branch. The program policies, instruments, frequently asked questions, and the schedule for damaged item fees are described below.

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  • Borrowers must be at least 14 years of age; must have an active (not expired) Montgomery County Public Libraries account with no fines or fees over $25.00. This account cannot be in Collection.
  • Borrowers must show staff a valid photo ID that matches the person showing it to their own account. This ID may be a driver’s license, MD State ID, Military ID, Student ID, Passport or other valid ID accepted by MCPL.
  • Only one musical instrument per library account may be checked out. (Users may check out an amplifier along with any instrument that requires it (electric guitars, electric/acoustic guitar/ukuleles, etc.). Or users may check out an amplifier by itself without an instrument (one amplifier per user). Exceptions or questions should be referred to the person in charge. There are some minor accessories like slides and capos that are not part of the limit.
  • Instruments are checked out for 14 days. Loans may not be renewed.
  • These items cannot be reserved in advance through MCPL’s automated systems. Library staff at the owning branch will reserve an item (if it is available) for the balance of a single business day. Customers may call the branch on the day they want the Instrument. Staff will only reserve an instrument if it is present and fully available for use when you call, and it will only be reserved for that balance of that business day, no matter when in the day the call is concluded. Customers should leave enough time (at least 15 minutes) before closing to successfully check out the instrument. Staff may refuse to reserve an item in any case where they conclude the reservation is impeding the availability of the instrument to all customers.
  • After items have been overdue for 21 days, the item will be assumed to be lost, and the account holder will be billed for the full replacement value of the instrument kit, in accordance with MCPL’s policies for items not returned. If the instrument is returned in working order, the bill will be adjusted accordingly.
  • Every element in a kit must be returned with the kit in order for a return to be recognized. Library staff will check contents of each kit with customer upon checkout and return to ensure all elements are inside.
  • Instruments must be returned to owning library (the library from which you checked the items out), and must be returned in person, to library staff at the Circulation Desk. Kits cannot be returned in book drops, or to other branches. There is a $25 fee that will be assessed if an instrument is returned to another branch.
  • Instruments must be kept in climate-controlled conditions, and not exposed to extreme temperature or humid/dry conditions. Customers should also make sure their hands are clean and dry before playing any instrument. The customer is responsible for reimbursing MCPL for up to the full replacement cost of any lost or damaged item(s) in the instrument kit. Replacement costs for every item are included in the kit. Reasonable wear and tear is expected, and customers will not be billed for that (Example: a single broken string). A reasonable effort will be made to repair any damaged musical instrument, at a fee appropriate to the level of repair (see the table below for an approximate idea of potential repair fees). The exact fee will be decided on a case-by-case basis, and will include a $25 processing charge for more serious repairs or replacement. Customers may not provide a substitute instrument in exchange for a lost or damaged one.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was this program started?

MCPL began lending musical instruments from the Twinbrook Branch on the afternoon of September 22, 2018.

What instruments are available?

To start with we have a variety of guitars, ukuleles, and hand-drums (djembe, doumbek, bohdran, kalimba, and more) to start our musical collection. There were 29 instruments and six amplifiers total: six ukuleles, six acoustic guitars, two electric guitars, two electric basses, 11 drums, two kalimbas (thumb pianos); and two bass and two guitar amplifiers, and two “headphone amplifiers.” Several of the instruments are appropriate for or designed specifically for Children. We will also have some musical accessories for lending (capos, slides, variety packs of guitar picks).

How are instruments selected?

The instruments are selected for ease of use, ability to maintain, “fun,” cost, durability, and fit with library content on how to play musical instruments. Each instrument was hand selected for playability, quality, and cost effectiveness. Instruments are purchased from local vendors when feasible..

Will you be adding more instruments?

We will be seeking customer feedback, assessing the impact of the program, and continuing to look at instruments that can be effectively maintained by our staff.

Why did you start this collection of musical instruments?

MCPL has a rich collection of music, the music business, musical instruments, and how to play music in digital format, media, and books. Playing a musical instrument can be rewarding, relaxing, educational. We wanted to provide that opportunity to our customers, as several other library systems in the country have also started to do. MCPL is also richly blessed with tremendous cultural diversity, and we have made our selection of instruments as culturally broad as we can to provide that learning opportunity as well.

How much did this cost?

The initial collection, supporting equipment, and display furniture cost approximately $9,000. The program is being implemented by existing staff as part of their normal duties (i.e., this program did not require the addition of staff to the County’s complement).

Do you accept donations of instruments?

Not at this time. We recommend you consider the Montgomery County Public Schools Foundation, which is taking instrument donations. Please contact the foundation directly at 240-740-3216 or

What if I have suggestions, concerns, or issues with the program?

We will be soliciting feedback using small surveys throughout the first year of the program. You can also discuss any concerns or issues directly with the Twinbrook Branch Staff, or via our comments and suggestions form.

Do the instruments all have protective cases?

Yes. Every instrument will be checked out with a carrying case. Carrying cases are generally padded, and were selected to be lightweight, durable, and easy to use. Almost all cases are “soft”, hard cases were too heavy and bulky to meet our needs. Guitar and Bass Amplifiers do have a “case.”

How should I store and handle the instruments I've borrowed?

Borrowers must keep the instruments in a safe, climate-controlled location.  Instruments should not be left in the weather, extreme hot or cold, or extremely humid or dry environments.  When transporting your instrument, please keep it under climate control as much as possible, and do not leave instruments in vehicles for prolonged periods.  Extreme temperature and humidity variations can affect not only the instrument’s health, but your ability to effectively play the instrument.  Customers should also handle instruments with care, and ensure their hands are clean and dry before handling an instrument.

Damaged Items Fee Schedule

Damage Level Bill/Fee Description
Level 1 $5 For minor damage to instrument that does not affect playability. Examples: long gouges, scratches, nicks.
Level 2 $10 For minor damage that must be repaired. Examples: multiple broken strings.
Level 3 $36 - $75 Price to be determined by program manager. Includes moderate damage that requires a repair costing $11 - $50, in addition to a $25 staff processing fee. Examples: dent or crack in an instrument, replacement of an electronic component such as a knob, dial, or switch.
Level 4 $75+ Price to be determined by program manager. Major damage that requires repair, from $50 up to the replacement cost of the instrument, plus $25 staff processing fee. Examples: neck ripped off guitar, electronic guitar pickup ripped out or damaged beyond repair, drumhead replacement.
Level 5 $Varies Price will be listed in catalog entry for replacement price of gig bag, electric tuner, kit books, kit CD/DVDs, or other single elements of a kit.