The Tampa Bay Ukulele Society, a non-profit organization, was formed in 2009 and is currently Florida’s largest ukulele group. The TBUS donated 50 ukuleles to the Pinellas and Hillsborough County Library districts to further music education.
“The plan is a two-step program to infuse the libraries with donations of the ukuleles and host workshops,” said Tom Hood, an event organizer who presented the idea to the group. “We were looking for a way to give back to the community. The library systems were very receptive, as they are always looking for new things to offer patrons, particularly if they are educational.”
Library patrons can check out the ukulele packages, which consist of everything needed to get started: a ukulele, bag, tuner, book and DVD. The loaner ukuleles are made of vibrantly-colored plastic, which makes them virtually indestructible, but they retain the same great sound as traditional wooden ukuleles.
“Twenty ukuleles were donated to each of the two library districts,” said Cosmo Sagristano, one of the event organizers, “with 10 for the group to use for workshops.”
Beginner workshops are scheduled at various library branches this month with more scheduled for July.
“A lady contacted me about a beginners’ workshop,” said Hood. “She and her husband wanted to learn to play so they could entertain people in nursing homes. After hearing that, the program just paid for itself.”
According to Jay Nunes, the current president who also spearheaded the training program, the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society currently has 836 members who connect through their Meetup group at meetup.com/tampabayukes and on Facebook at Tampa Bay Ukulele Society. Learn more about the Ukulele Lending Library at pplc.us