The King County Library System provides an array of learning opportunities, both online and in-person. Many opportunities also come in the form of exploration, allowing patrons to visit local parks and museums free.
The pass programs are possible through partnerships with government agencies and other organizations.
One KCLS partnership supports a Check Out Washington program, which recently increased the number of adventure packs available to the public to encourage local exploration. The packs contain special Discover Passes for Washington State Parks, as well as nature guides and binoculars.
Check Out Washington launched in 2019 after KCLS joined forces with Washington State Parks and Washington State Library, the Washington State Parks Foundation, and the Washington departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). In 2020, the State Legislature pledged $35,000 annually to buy passes for every library in Washington that wants them.
In May, the Parks Foundation secured a sponsorship from the Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) to fund the purchase of more than 400 additional passes for 10 rural and urban libraries that serve diverse communities experiencing environmental health disparities, including KCLS. Thanks to the expansion, KCLS now offers nearly 200 adventure packs to library cardholders, who can check them out for 14 days.
“With the Check Out Washington program, a KCLS library card becomes your ticket to outdoor adventures,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “We are thrilled to offer more adventure packs to King County residents, and we thank all Check Out Washington partners for making this expansion possible.”
KCLS library cardholders also can visit an array of local museums with museum passes. Unlike the Check Out Washington packs, which require a hold and an in-person pickup at a library, those who want museum passes can reserve online and print out a pass or show the QR code on their phone.
The extremely popular museum passes have been offered by KCLS since 2009, starting with KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) and Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. The program has since expanded to include the Museum of Flight, Seattle Aquarium, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), the Northwest African American Museum and others. Find the complete list on the KCLS website.
KCLS staff says the museum passes are extremely popular and advise interested patrons to check the website regularly to determine available reservation dates.
Patrons clearly appreciate the passes, judging by the steady demand and positive online feedback.
One patron wrote, “I had a great time visiting The Museum of Pop Culture and I love all the exhibits there, especially the ones on Fantasy, Science Fiction and Indie Gaming.”
Another patron posted on Facebook, “Thanks to the library, we were able to go free to the Washington State Museum of History–one of our favorites!”
“We’re enjoying ourselves at the Museum of Flight!” a patron tweeted. “Thank you, KCLS, for your pass service!”
This social media post perhaps says it all: “Thanks to the King County Library Museum Pass! It does open a world of wonders!”