A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Demand High for Museum Passes

by on September 3, 2013

I truly believe that one of the best services the public library offers is lending museum passes.  My library offers sixteen passes, some funded by the Friends of the Library and many offered freely by the museums and state parks. In the summer particularly, the passes fly off the shelf. Demand is so high, that we have acquired multiple passes for certain locations and also had to devise a reserve systemand related policy. Our passes only circulate for two days. Patrons can reserve a pass for two days on a first-come, first served-basis. Passes cannot be reserved for more than two days in sequence by the same patron.

This last point caused some brief contention. There are people who want the pass for a week or wish to use it for for more than two days in a row. Unfortunately demand is too high and we discovered the hard way that we cannot accommodate this. After some initial grumblings, almost all have benefited from the policyAs popular as our passes are we are frequently amazed at the number of patrons who do not  even know they exist. Almost daily during the summer a patron will arrive at the circulation desk looking perplexed and saying, “someone said something about you having passes to someplace?”

To help this, we have started creatingdisplays that relate to particular passes. For example, we are fortunate enough to be in range of the Eric Carle Museum (http://www.carlemuseum.org/).  This is a charming museum devoted to children’s picture books, and a highly recommended spot if you are in the neighborhood this summer. Yet, many didn’t know it existed. One display of Carle’s books and a mockup of the pass, and the reserve calendar for the museum’s pass filled up.

In the fall, we are planning a display for one of our local art museums, selecting books of artists whose work we know is also in the collection. With little effort, displays can also bebe linked with traveling shows or specific exhibitions. The promotion of passes also provides a perfect opportunity for community partnerships.

In many ways the museum pass is the unsung hero of the library. I would urge everyone to promote your passes! And if your library does not participate, contact local museums, this may be the chance to develop a beneficial relationship for both organizations.