Updating its long-running Museum Passport program for the digital world, the Chicago Public Library has launched a new program to expand access to Chicago’s museums and parks.
Twenty years after the Public Library began a program in which Chicago library cardholders could checkout passes in-person for free to visit museums, parks, science centers, theatres and more, the library has updated the program to make it more digital.
The new Digital Museum Passes provide greater access by allowing users to make reservations online rather than having to visit a local library in-person to obtain them.
“One of the issues with the print passes was — if you weren’t able to physically get into your branch first thing in the morning, you may miss out on a pass there and there were a lot of people who had to drive around, looking for locations where they could get the pass,” said Patrick Molloy, Chicago Public Library’s government and public affairs director.
This shift enables individuals who may not have the time or resources to visit their local branch to still conveniently access the opportunities the pass provides.
“Chicago has a rich cultural scene and wonderful museums,” said Molloy. “And people who may not have the means to just go and pay for access to these different museums — it’s important that we do whatever we can to level the playing field and give them the opportunity to experience the things that others are able to.”
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In addition, any individual 18 years or older with a physical library card in good standing can participate. Under the previous program, family passes were required to include one person under the age of 18.
Library officials said the new program closely aligns with what has been implemented in other Illinois cities, along with communities across the country.
Along with the shift in the program, came a shift in management. While previously housed under the library’s children’s services and family engagement department, the program is now managed by the library’s director of technology.
The library passes are just one way Chicago residents can take advantage of the city’s robust educational opportunities.
Several of the city’s museums host 52 free visit days per year — many of which occur during the summer. Each library branch will have schedules available detailing when those free visit days occur.
To make a reservation for the museum passes, visit chipublib.org/digitalpasses and log in with their library card number and PIN.