Circulation Sings in Joe’s MILL’s New Home

Joe's M.I.L.L.

By Hollie Pratt-Campbell

The official numbers aren’t in yet, but library coordinator Roger Eccleston can vouch for the fact that Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Instrument Lending Library (Joe's M.I.L.L.) has taken its work to the next level since moving into the Tett in January.

“We have been increasing in business gradually over the last five or six years, but there has been a huge influx of new registered borrowers [in 2015],” Eccleston says. “It’s easy to see it’s ahead of the curve just by looking back over the number of registered users in February-March in the last couple of years.”

He adds that the number of loans at the MILL is also “up considerably” from the 500 or so a month they did at their previous location at the Robert Meek Community Centre – not to mention the improved look of the space, with its exposed stone walls and instruments on display around the room.

“[At Robert Meek] the walls were crumbling. We couldn’t put slack wall up [to display the instruments]... And the floor is flat here, which is something we never had before.”

Eccleston says that the late Joe Chithalen, in whose honour the honour the M.I.L.L. was created, would be very happy and excited to see what the organization has become.

“He would have walked in here and just gone “YES!”

He remarks that many people who have come to visit other organizations and artists at the Tett have been curious about the M.I.L.L., and come in to see what it’s all about.

“The way I’ve always looked at it is we take book libraries for granted... But books are limited to the language in which they’re written, whereas music is the one universal language. It doesn’t matter what age you are, what colour your skin is, what your religion is, what your gender is. Music is the universal communication device, so it makes sense to me that everybody should have an opportunity to communicate in music.”

Plus, he adds, the M.I.L.L. allows people to try out all sorts of different instruments to find the one they like best before potentially making a purchase.

“One of the best things is when somebody brings an instrument back and I say ‘would you like to take this instrument out again or swap it for another?’ and they say ‘no thank you, because of your place we realized what we want and we’ve been out and bought one’. That to me is very satisfying.”

Not to mention “feeling like a kid in a candy store” every day at work, surrounded by the library’s many and various instruments.

“I’m a jack of all trades, master of none when it comes to playing instruments and we’ve just got this incredible array of instruments. We have the strangest things here - everything from a didgeridoo to a fariman and sitars - just so many really weird and wonderful things. I’m really lucky to have landed this position.”