Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Library Museum Passes

This topic came up when we realized we were having an unexpected guest next weekend who would be staying for a longer than anticipated time. We needed an activity that was close and entertaining. We chose the Science Discovery Museum in Acton. For some reason I thought I had checked our library's list of museums, but I missed this one. Their website provides a list of libraries that have Discovery Museum passes. After realizing I almost missed a great money saving opportunity, I thought it was a great topic for a blog.

Many local charitable organizations provide passes to museums and other local places of interest for library patrons to borrow. The passes can range from discounts to free admission. The numbers of people they cover also vary.

These are some helpful tips to get better use from your local library passes.

Use the Online Library Services in the Convenience of Your Home.

If your library has an online service, start there. I have been in line more Saturdays while people struggle desperately to find an available pass. Library event passes are popular and they reserve quickly. Many libraries not only have the ability to research pass information, but actually to reserve the passes. Libraries vary in how far in advance you can reserve a pass. Once you know your intended date, you will want to reserve as soon as the system allows you to make a reservation. Popular passes go quickly, especially in the summer and during school vacations.

Read the Rules

The libraries and the institutions you are visiting have rules. Many libraries have instructions about when the passes can be picked up and dropped off. Our library has some stiff fines when passes are not picked up or they are dropped off late. This is to encourage people not to place a hold on a pass preventing someone else from using it that day. The goal is to reserve it and use it.

Our library is good about trying to list availability only on dates institutions are open. For instance if a museum is not open on Mondays, they try to "X" out that date so people cannot reserve the pass for those days. However, places do change hours and schedules. I have heard people complaining to the librarians that they were unable to use the pass as if it was the library's fault the place was closed. My advice is to check the website and call if you have any doubts. Some places are better than others about keeping their websites updated with current hours and schedules. The library has enough challenges just keeping up with the reservations and returns. They are not travel agents.

Read the Directions for the Pass

It is important to know what the pass does. Many libraries provide this information online. If you have any doubts, ask. Call the library and double check with the place you are visiting to make sure you know what is covered. Some passes provide discounts, others free entrance. Some passes will give you entry to the museum, but you have to pay for special exhibits. Some of these exhibits require separate reservations. Much of this information can be found on the institution's website. It is best to do your research before your trip.

Check Your Best Options

If you are traveling in a group, you may have multiple discount options. I am going to be discussing a few more of these in future blogs. Children and seniors often have discount offers based on age. You may want to use those discounts first and use the library discounts for the more expensive adults. You can always spread the savings around to make sure everyone gets benefits from the actual cost when buying the tickets. There are multiple ways to divide the savings. We tend to add up the cost of the tickets after savings and divide it by the number of adults. Then everyone gets to share in the savings. There are many other methods to maximize the discounts and free tickets. If people are traveling from different towns, research the library discounts available in those towns. Even if you cannot get your library passes, grandma or an uncle traveling with you might have better luck. If you get lucky, you may get enough passes to cover all of you. Just one word of caution, you are responsible for any loans made on your library card. It is best not to borrow any passes you will not be responsible for as you will be liable if they are not returned.

Flexibility Provides More Options

Weekends tend to be the busiest. If you have the option to visit during the week, you have a better chance of using a pass. Many homeschooling parents are aware of the benefits of weekday visits. For some sites, you do have to work around school group tours. That goes back to my warning about researching prior to scheduling your trip.


  1. I would have never thought to check with my library for a pass like this. We have some family coming in over the next couple of months. I'm going to check with my library to see if we can score some savings on a trip we are thinking about taking to Columbus COSI.

  2. Oh wow, I would never think to contact a library. The one here is pretty tiny as is the one next town over, but I bet the county library which is in a much bigger city would have something! I should check. Our local movie rental has free kids movies and our library has kids movies for a small fee. Lil m feels like she is getting a special treat when she can pick her own movies. Then I don't have to worry about telling her no when she wants us to pay $30 for all of us to see a movie at the theater.