“Lending Library” has a nice ring to it, especially when it’s home to over one million pieces of music. The Bagaduce Music Lending Library sits quietly (or not so quietly, depending on how you think about it) at 49 South Street in the coastal town of Blue Hill, Maine. 

The library was founded in 1983 by three friends who wondered how they could share their collections of printed sheet music and scores with others. One of them suggested a music lending library. Another offered to convert her garage.  Within months, the Bagaduce Music Lending Library was born, named after the Bagaduce River that flowed by the front door.  

Donations of music poured in and the space was quickly outgrown. In 1985 the library moved to a giant red barn on Greene’s Hill where it operated for 32 years. In June 2017, the library moved to its current location at 49 South Street, where it sits on a campus that inlcudes a 100-seat performance hall and grounds cared for by members of the Native Gardens of Blue Hill. 

I discovered Bagaduce Music in 2017 when I had the opportunity to perform at their 27th annual Blue Hill Pops Concert held at George Stevens Academy.  That night was buzzing with people and performances, in contrast to my next visit to Blue Hill, when I literally lost time between the pages of music I was researching in the quiet of the library.

I checked out several pieces of music to take home with me that day in person, but most of the library’s borrowing is done from away by mail. You can search their entire catalog online and order pieces to borrow for to 2-4 months at a time for a modest fee. The Bagaduce Music website mentions that borrowers have come from all 50 states and 27 foreign countries. (Note: There is an annual membership fee to borrow from Bagaduce -individuals $25, students 18 or younger, $15).

My area of interest is their extensive Maine Collection.  Exploring it online at the lending library website is fun and easy. You can search for music relating to a Maine town, and/or you can search by subject, or if you’re looking for a specific piece, you can search by composer, title, publisher and even by copyright date.  I was searching for Maine love songs for the documentary film I’m working on and was excited to find a treasure trove. I checked a few pieces out online and the library mailed them to me.  

This special collection includes music with any Maine connection: it could be a piece of music about a specific location, or if a composer lived or is buried in a Maine town or even mentioned a Maine location in a song, it’s cataloged and housed in the collection. From the Bagaduce Music website: “Maine’s colorful history, her beautiful coastline, lighthouses, saltwater farms and boundless forests have created an aura of romance and legend. Composers from all parts of the nation have been inspired to write music on Maine themes.”

If you’d like to learn more about Bagaduce Music, visit www.bagaducemusic.org. Head to the Search Music page to explore their many collections. If you’d like to learn more about the area, visit www. bluehillpeninsula.org   Better yet, visit in person.