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Library Card Discounts: Free Museum Passes, Free Tickets & More

Library Card Discounts: Free Museum Passes, Free Tickets & More

We have uncovered some insane library card discounts that go far beyond just books! If you don’t have a library card, then you could be missing out on some major perks!

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From money-saving streaming services to exciting free museum passes, from creative makerspaces to free music lessons, libraries all over the country are expanding their offerings to include incredible new features. All you need is a library card to unlock these incredible opportunities!

That’s right! I said library card.

If you still think your local public library is just aisles of books, a few computers, and the occasional story time for kids, then keep reading! We’re going to cover 10 incredible library card discounts that you won’t want to miss.

Top 10 Library Card Discounts

In this section, we’ll explore the “Top 10 Library Card Discounts” that can help you explore new horizons, learn new skills, and enjoy a wide range of activities at a fraction of the cost. Whether you’re looking to dive into history at a local museum, catch a live performance, or expand your knowledge through online learning platforms, your library card opens the door to endless possibilities and savings.

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Free Museum Passes with Your Library Card

Many libraries offer free museum passes to local zoos, aquariums, children’s museums, art museums, and more! These cultural partnership initiatives are especially beneficial to low income families. While most libraries have at least a few passes, some places offer a lot of them. In California and Michigan, library cardholders can access hundreds of different venues for free!

Museum passes can usually be reserved online but many have to be picked up from your local library. Some of them are just paper certificates that can be thrown away after they’re used and others have to be returned to the branch. 

Of course, each library system has different rules and offerings when it comes to getting free museum passes with your library card. Fortunately for you, we’re super-sleuths when it comes to secret benefits. There’s nothing we love more than freebies! You can find our list of library card discounts organized by library below.

In fact, we only started this series when I discovered some crazy benefits at my local Washington library systems. I’ve lived here my entire life and I had no idea I could save money on trips to the Seattle Aquarium or MoPOP or KidsQuest Museum. As soon as I found out about these programs, I wanted to share them and help you discover the hidden library perks in your local community!

Of course, the exact museum passes offered by your library are going to vary depending on where you live. You probably aren’t going to be able to pick a free pass to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle if you live in Minnesota. That wouldn’t make sense.

Since it would be impossible to list every free library’s free museum passes in a single post, we’ve organized this series by state and library for your convenience. Just pick your state from the blue list of links below to find your library’s information.

Free Event Tickets

In some areas, you may be able to get free tickets to local theaters, concerts and other events through your local library system. These passes are usually managed through the same system that handles the museum passes.

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These tickets are a fantastic way to dive into your community’s cultural scene without spending a dime. They’re usually handed out on a first-come, first-served basis, so it pays to keep an eye out and act fast.

It’s all part of how libraries are stepping up, making sure everyone gets a taste of culture and fun, no matter their budget. For the latest scoop on free tickets, a quick chat with your library or a visit to their website should do the trick.

Library of Things

A Library of Things will allow you to borrow items for free so you don’t have to buy them! This is new way of imagining the library experience, where you can borrow far more than just books.

Not every library system offers this but many do. The Library of Things allows you to borrow items and equipment that the library has purchased for lending. We’ve found libraries that let you check out sewing machines, drum sets, guitars, GoPro cameras, cake pans, telescopes, exercise equipment, cameras and more.

This is one of my favorite library card discounts, because it allows you to explore new hobbies or try new things that you may not be able to afford or reasonably buy on your own.

Free Music Lessons

Many libraries include musical instruments in their Library of Things, and some of them also offer free music lessons and instruction to help you make the most of those items when you check them out.

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For example, the Spokane Public Library offers a unique opportunity for its community members to not only borrow musical instruments but also to learn how to play them through free music lessons. They invite all community members over the age of 10 to take free music lessons. Students can choose to learn guitar, bass, drums, piano, keyboard or ukulele. No experience is required to start.

Since music lessons tend to be very expensive, they are often out of reach for low income Americans. I’m thrilled to see more library card discounts that allow everyone to participate in things like this!

Free Internet & Take-Home Tech

Libraries across the United States have become an important part of the fight to close the digital divide. In our research, we’ve found that many libraries employ people who serve as digital navigators to help people connect with the internet and other technology tools.

In some areas, you may even be able to check out WiFi hotspots so you can get free Internet in your home! This is one of the most important library card discounts, because these hotspots are absolutely priceless for low income families. You can usually keep them for an extended period, such as six weeks to six months. In at least one library system, you can keep them for up to a year!

Some libraries also allow you to checkout laptops for several months at a time. This is particularly beneficial for students and community members who lack access to technology at home. By providing technology lending programs, libraries play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to information and digital literacy tools. It’s very helpful to be able to borrow a laptop if you need to apply for a job, complete a training course, or access government services.

Makerspaces

If you’re a creator (or an aspiring creator) of any kind, or just like to understand how things work, then you need to know about makerspaces! Epic makerspaces are being added to library systems across the US. These elite, state-of-the-art innovation centers feature high-tech equipment specifically for public use.

Several branches offer 3D printers, milling machines, soldering stations, recording studios, green-screen video studios, video editors and even printing presses! More and more libraries around the country are adding these tech tools, so it’s always worth checking in for updates.

These spaces usually offer classes to help you learn how to use the equipment. In most cases, access to the Makerspace is free. However, there may be a small cost for whatever materials you use. Even still, this is one of my favorite library card discounts because it’s much more affordable to pay for materials than to buy our own 3D printer.

My family recently visited our local library to print a ton of things, from bookmarks to custom LEGO-compatible shields to dragon minifigures. We spent about $20 and everyone was able to get several items. They averaged about $1 each. It’s a great way to get affordable gifts for your children at Christmas or birthdays, too!

Free Streaming Services

Most libraries around the country have integrated free streaming services into their offerings. These are some of the most versatile library card discounts, because you don’t even have to go to the library to use them. You can enjoy these perks from the comfort of your own home!

In our research, we’ve found that most libraries partner with Libby, Hoopla, and other service providers to help you access free movies, music, and audiobooks from home.

Most of these services have convenient apps you can use on your smartphone, so you don’t even have to visit your local branch to view this material. You’ll be able to access it anywhere that you can connect to the Internet! You just need to download the app and log in with your library card credentials.

There are over 4,000 participating libraries around the world, so you should definitely check to see if your local library offers these services! Some libraries offer all of them, some offer a few and some offer none so what is available to you will vary.

Some of the most common streaming library card discounts include:

  • OverDrive/Libby provides access to a vast collection of ebooks and audiobooks. OverDrive has acquired RBdigital, another streaming platform that offers a wide range of digital content services, including audiobooks, magazines, and ebooks.
  • Hoopla offers movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics, and TV shows to stream or download.
  • Kanopy specializes in streaming thoughtful entertainment, including movies, documentaries, foreign films, classic cinema, independent films, and educational videos.
  • Freegal Music provides access to about 15 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists, and over 40,000 music videos.
  • TumbleBook Library focuses on animated, talking picture books, read-along chapter books, national geographic videos, non-fiction books, playlists, as well as books in Spanish and French.
  • Flipster offers digital magazines for browsing on computers, smartphones, or tablets.

Online Education Tools

Want to learn another language, improve your job skills, prepare for certification exams or just learn something new? It can be challenging to find time to dig into these subjects and sometimes they can be expensive. That’s why it’s so beneficial that so many libraries are now offering library card discounts for learning software. These programs are easy to use at home and may be accessible through your local library system.

These services can help you master the skills you need improve your life at your own pace. And, with your library card, it may all be free!

While researching these articles, I’ve found that most libraries offer access to at least a few of the following learning tools:

  • Mango Languages is an online language-learning system teaching practical conversation skills for a wide variety of languages.
  • LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) offers a vast library of video courses in software, creative, and business skills, taught by industry experts.
  • Coursera provides access to free courses from top universities and colleges in a wide range of subjects (access policies may vary).
  • Gale Courses provides a wide range of highly interactive, instructor-led courses that you can take entirely online.
  • edX offers free online courses from universities around the world, covering subjects from computer science to business to humanities.
  • Universal Class features over 500 courses in subjects like entrepreneurship, home and garden, health and medicine, and more, with continuing education credits available.
  • Skillshare is a platform with thousands of creative courses on topics like illustration, photography, and web design (availability may vary).

Free Meeting Spaces

One of the library card discounts I’ve been using a lot lately involves free meeting spaces. Now that I’m providing consulting services for local small businesses, I often meet clients at the library for a private and efficient meeting space. It gives me the chance to talk to the business owner in a neutral environment where they can be completely honest without worrying about eavesdroppers in the office.

Most libraries have meeting rooms that you can use if you have a library card. These rooms usually have a table, chairs, paper, pens, and the technology required to have a secure and efficient meeting.

Benefits & Financial Assistance

Many libraries can help you connect with other discount and assistance programs, like free bus passes, free health care and other programs.

Libraries also serve as access points for various social services, offering information and assistance with applying for government aid programs such as SNAP (food stamps), unemployment benefits, and child care vouchers. Some even host sessions with social workers who can guide individuals and families to the assistance they need.

While this isn’t strictly a library card discount, it is a very helpful service that can help you save money and get help with critical needs.

woman streaming media

Library Card Discounts Near You

Ultimately, every library system offers a different set of library card discounts. What’s available at my local library may not be available in your area, so we’ve been doing our best to research different library systems around the United States.

As our research list has grown, our investigation of local libraries has taken a back seat to more pressing and urgent matters like financial assistance for people with breast cancer. However, we do take your comments seriously and we will try to get more information for you if you drop a request in the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s the list of library card discounts we’ve found thus far:

Arizona

So far, we’ve researched two library networks in Arizona:

Arkansas

We’ve completed the research for two systems in Arkansas:

California

We’ve received a lot of requests for information in California. Here’s the list of California library card discounts we’ve researched thus far:

Colorado

Here’s the list of locations we’ve investigated in Colorado.

Delaware

We’ve found resources at the following libraries:

Florida

If you’re in Florida, check out these libraries for great freebies and deals!

Georgia

In Georgia, you may be able to find freebies and deals from the following libraries:

Hawaii

The Hawaii State Library System offers some incredible perks, including a free seed library, hundreds of quilt patterns, and so much more!

Illinois

If you have a library card in Illinois, you can get some incredible library card discounts through your local branch! Choose your local system below to get the details.

Indiana

Although there are many systems in Indiana, so far we’ve only researched the Indianapolis Library.

Iowa

Iowa residents can get some great deals from the Sioux City Public Library system!

Kansas

We’ve found some incredible deals from the Topeka Library!

Kentucky

If you live near Louisville, you can get some incredible offers from the Louisville Free Public Library!

Louisiana

The Shreeve Memorial Library has some great offers for local residents.

Maryland

There are so many great offers throughout Maryland! Here are the ones we’ve found so far:

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has some incredible library card discounts, too! Choose your location below to find out what else you can do with your card.

Michigan

Michigan has some great opportunities for adventure. Choose your location below to find your next one!

Minnesota

If you live in Minnesota, you have to check out these amazing deals!

Missouri

We’ve found some great offerings by the St. Louis County Library!

Nevada

If you live in southern Nevada, check out these library card discounts from the Las Vegas Clark County Library Division!

New Hampshire

We’ve only researched this location in New Hampshire so far:

New Mexico

Here are the New Mexico locations we’ve looked into so far:

New York

We’ve looked into libraries all over New York. If you live in the city, don’t forget that you can also get some incredible deals through idNYC!

North Carolina

Choose your North Carolina location below for details.

Ohio

We’ve found some great offerings from Ohio libraries, too!

Oregon

Looking for library card discounts at your local Oregon branch? Here’s what we’ve found so far:

Oklahoma

We’ve found some awesome things at your local branch in Oklahoma!

Pennsylvania

Here’s what we’ve found in Pennsylvania:

Rhode Island

Just like Hawaii, Rhode Island has all of their libraries in one system. This is wonderful, because many states have fragmented library networks that don’t communicate or share resources. Wherever you are in Rhode Island, you can find some awesome offers and museum passes from the Ocean State Libraries!

South Carolina

Here’s what we’ve found in South Carolina so far:

Tennessee

We’ve founds some great offers in Tennessee:

Texas

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including their library systems! There’s a lot to cover here. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Virginia

There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Virginia. The museums below offer museum passes and more!

Washington

Washington has some incredible library perks. In fact, this is why this entire series started! As a Washington resident, I loved picking up free museum passes and so much more from libraries all over the Pacific Northwest.

Remember, all it takes to get a Seattle Public Library card is to be someone (or the spouse or underage dependent of someone) who either lives, works, goes to school or owns property in Seattle, Bothell, or most areas of King County!

Here’s what we’ve found in Washington so far:

Washington DC

If you live in Washington DC, you can get some great perks from the District of Columbia Public Library System!

Wisconsin

Here’s what we’ve found for Wisconsin so far:

Relief Recap

You may be able to get free museum passes and other library card discounts from your local library system! You can also get free streaming services, access to 3D printers and makerspaces, and so much more. The Low Income Relief team researches libraries all across the United States to find out what freebies, deals and opportunities are available near you.

Sarona

Sunday 11th of February 2024

Sorry to be more specific Davis County in Utah. Thanks again for all you do!

Catherine Marucci

Monday 12th of February 2024

Hi Sarona. We'll look into it.

Sarona

Sunday 11th of February 2024

So I can't help but to notice you skipped Utah. I reside in Northern Utah. Can you please check if any libraries here offer anything? Or even Southern Utah. Thank you!

Galina

Friday 1st of December 2023

Would you be able to add Fort Vancouver Regional Library in Clark County Washington to the list as well? Thank you!

Catherine Marucci

Friday 1st of December 2023

Hi Galina. We'll see what we can find. In the meantime, it may be worth checking out their resources page: https://www.fvrl.org/services

Catherine Marucci

Thursday 1st of June 2023

Hi Addie. It looks like they have wifi hotspots that you can bring home https://calcasieulibrary.org/devicesfaxprintscan-6040

Cas

Thursday 4th of May 2023

Love your content, it’s SO helpful, thank you! Could you please research Pueblo County Library?

Catherine Marucci

Friday 5th of May 2023

Hi Cas. They have some listed here: https://www.pueblolibrary.org/index.php/community