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June 19, 2013

Library patrons can ‘check out’ local cultural attractions at a discount

By Andy Kozlowski and Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writers

ROCHESTER — Your library card just became a passport to about 60 cultural venues across Michigan, thanks to a new program recently launched at nearly 400 participating libraries, including the Rochester Hills Public Library.

The Michigan Activity Pass is the successor to the Museum Adventure Pass, which Macy’s hosted the last five years in the metro Detroit area. Unlike that particular program, though, the Michigan Activity Pass, started May 24, extends its offer to venues across the state.

It’s a collaborative effort between The Library Network, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Library of Michigan Foundation and CultureSource. Like its predecessor, the Michigan Activity Pass serves as a supplement to the learning experience in libraries, offering passes at free or reduced cost to cultural venues, which organizers hope will encourage a return trip to the library to learn more.

All you need is a valid library card. Then you visit your local library’s website to print out a pass to the venue of your choice. Each library has five passes available per venue, per week. Each pass lasts seven days from when it’s checked out.

“What we’re trying to do is actively engage in a process that offers a variety of venues that would attract families out of their home environment,” said Jim Pletz, director of TLN. “By doing that, we hope we’re also encouraging follow-up reading in the summertime.”

As an example, he pointed to the Jackson Historic Prison Tours, which give people an inside look at the now-shuttered maximum security prison.

“Perhaps they could read up on what prisoners were there after they go on the tour,” Pletz said. “We think there’s value to that follow-up research.”

There are a wide variety of attractions. Visitors can learn about the history of the Oldsmobile at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, see one of the country’s most impressive collections of scale architectural sets at the Midwest Miniatures Museum between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, or learn all about warplanes at the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville.

Although not all of the attractions are free like they were under the Museum Adventure Pass, there are a lot more options for people to choose from this year, according to Ginger Olson, head of circulation services at the Rochester Hills Public Library.

“Some of them are free admission to the museum or activity, some are buy-one-get-one-free or buy-one-get-one-half-off — there are also coupons to gift stores and things like that. It’s a little bit more variety to encourage people to come to that museum or place of interest,” she said. “It’s certainly worth a family looking at if they are interested in going somewhere. … It encourages them to do something different.”

For example, patrons can explore Meadow Brook Hall — the historic home built by Matilda Dodge Wilson that was constructed between 1926 and 1929 — for $5 off tour admission for up to four people.

The revamped program is also more convenient, according to Olson.

“For a long time, patrons needed to come in and get a printed pass to take to the museums, and last year, they put it online. Now, it’s even better because it allows the patron to go online and say, ‘This is where I am,’ by putting in their ZIP code, and, ‘This is my local library’ … and it tells you what museums and activities are available as part of the group and have passes available,” she said.

To acquire a Michigan Activity Pass, Rochester Hills Public Library patrons should visit http://www.rhpl.org, look for the Michigan Activity Pass icon, and follow the instructions.

“A lot of our patrons — because they’ve participated in the Museum Adventure Pass program in the past — have asked about it. We wiped off that whole program from our home page and then just recently added the new link to the homepage, so I think people will take a look at it and jump on that,” Olson said.

For a list of the participating organizations and more information about the Michigan Activity Pass, go to http://michiganactivitypass.info or call the Rochester Hills Public Library at (248) 656-2900.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.