Libraries don’t just circulate books. From tools to electronics to experiences, more and more unique items are available for checkout. As Library Journal recently reported, in fall of 2015, Colorado State Library worked with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to pilot Check Out Colorado State Parks, a program that lets libraries lend passes for patrons to visit any of the state’s forty-two parks. In June 2016, after the success that the initial eight public libraries had with these passes, Check Out Colorado State Parks spread to 287 libraries across Colorado. Indiana libraries have implemented a similar program.
So, how does this all work? In Colorado, patrons check out a backpack for seven days that has not only a pass to the parks but also field guides on state flora and fauna and information from Leave No Trace, as well as other park information. Each pass allows entry for one carload of park visitors. At some parks, even a bus from a school or activity center can come in with a single pass. In addition, the Colorado State Library put together a toolkit of valuable information and promotional materials for use in implementing this program.
After one month, Beth Crist, Colorado State Library’s Youth and Family Services consultant, said that the positive feedback and high demand for the program signifies its success. Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD), which is participating in the program, has had a similar positive experience. Tim Morris, recommended websites librarian and the person charged with implementation for PPLD, attests to the program’s popularity: “Since we allow half of the backpacks to be placed on hold, and the other half to be available as rapid items available at the locations on a first-come, first-served basis, we have had a lot of patron usage in a short amount of time.”
Leah Morris, Delta County (Colo.) Libraries Systems and Collections coordinator, commented:
As a rural district with a limited budget, we are eager to participate in programs that provide exceptional services to our patrons at a low cost to us. The Check Out Colorado State Parks program is an excellent example of this type of service… . Thanks to programs like this one, we are inviting our patrons to check out experiences, adventures, and lasting memories.
Pikes Peak patron Jamey Hastings, who used one of the backpacks, said the information on all the different state parks helped them decide which park they wanted to camp in. They picked State Forest State Park near Walden, Colo., in hopes of using the included binoculars to view moose. Although the moose were elusive that weekend, Hastings said, “The park pass made it possible to visit and camp for one night for only $10, a great bargain!”