Grand County libraries: Delta County checks out Check Out the Music program |

Grand County libraries: Delta County checks out Check Out the Music program

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

If so, then the Delta County Library District is paying a great compliment to the Grand County Library District’s “Check Out the Music” program.

Delta County wants to institute a similar program in its district of five libraries located in the towns of Delta, Paonia, Cedaredge, Hodgkiss and Crawford on the Colorado Western Slope near Grand Junction

It was all based on a promise made by John Catt, President of Grand County Blues Society. Catt has been instrumental, so to speak, in initiating and continuing the popular Check Out the Music program offered @ Your Library in Grand County.

The Grand County Blues Society was honored at the Colorado Association of Libraries Awards for being the Library Partner of the Year for its collaborative Check Out the Music Program. Catt was on hand with Joy McCoy, who serves both the Blues Society and the Library, to accept the award.

Upon sharing in the honor, Catt told the assembled librarians and library administrators that he’d make it worth their while to institute a similar program.

“We made a promise that we’d donate a guitar to the first library that agreed to try and emulate this great program,” Catt said. “We wanted this program to have an offspring.”

The Delta County District accepted the challenge from the Grand County Library District. Representatives were in the county recently to accept the brand new guitar ” the Squire version of the Fender Telecaster ” and learn about how the program works.

The check out the music program began as a unique partnership between the Grand County Library District and the Blue Society. Together, the organizations dreamed up the “Check Out the Music” program, which provides guitars, basses, keyboards, and drum pads for check out @ Your Library. Children and adult library cardholders can take home these instruments for up to six weeks at a time.

Instructional materials, such as books, videos, and classic blues and folk music performance DVDs, supplement the exploration of musical talents. The Grand County Blues Society also offers free monthly guitar lessons at the libraries to aspiring school-aged musicians during the school year.

“It’s just ironic that the very first offspring of Check Out the Music ended up going to a place called the Delta County Library District,” Catt said. “The Mississippi Delta, after all, is the where the blues were born. It’s symbolically important . . . What began in the Delta ended up back in the Delta – Delta County, that is.”

The ingenuity of the program got the attention of the Delta County Library District.

“We feel there is a great need for this program in our district because there are many musicians in our area,” said Rhonda Duclo of the Delta County Library District. “They come to our libraries. They give lessons. The libraries are another outlet for them.”

She said the structure of the Check Out the Music program and how it represents collaboration between public and private entities can be a template for her library district’s ongoing cooperation with their school district.

“It seems music departments in our county are providing less and less, so this can help fill that gap,” she said. “There’s a long-term history of partnership between our library district and our school district and I think we can work together through our ‘Vision’ program to provide lessons and access to lessons.”

She hopes that the program will serve as a magnet for cultural attention toward their libraries.

“Let’s make people think of this program and then think of the libraries, through this program, as a place to go for music and expanded musical horizons,” Duclo added.

Elliot Jackson, coordinator of literacy for the Delta County Library District, said she immediately saw great potential in the Check Out the Music Program. That was partly inspired by her personal interest in music (she’s a musician herself) and also by her awareness of the needs of musicians in the local community.

Joy McCoy, youth services librarian at the Fraser Valley Library, said she’s is plenty busy handling the work that’s involved when instruments are checked out as part of the Check Out the Music program. She encouraged some linkage in the Delta County program with some sort of cultural organization or group.

Jackson said Delta County doesn’t have a blues society in place like the one in Grand County. But there is a strong network of musicians that represent something close to just such a cultural organization.

“I see this as a great magnet for donations,” Jackson added, “and as a great magnet for musicians to interact with each other and students.”

Catt added that through the Blues Society many instruments have been donated to the program.

“It seemed to make sense that our Blues Society would be involved with this program,” Catt said. “As a Blues Society we had collected instruments. We were collecting them ” for what, we didn’t know. So this program just fit naturally.”

He added that getting more instruments as the program has expanded in Grand County has been inspiring.

“We’re finding that a lot of people are willing to donate the instruments,” he said. He adds that he was also able to find favorable deals on new instruments, when needed, from retailers.

“It’s just been a great thing to see kids blossom musically through this program,” Catt said.

A similar sort of blossoming is now set to take place in Delta County, thanks to the seed of an idea started @ Your Library in Grand County.

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