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Library Card Perks in Boston

10 Cool Library Card Perks in Boston

Did you know that your Boston Public Library card can help you save money? Indeed!  Whether Boston (BPL) or Suburban Minuteman Library Network (Metrowest), Old Colony Library Network (South Shore), and the North of Boston Library Exchange, you can find a treasure trove of perks, savings opportunites and fun things to do with your kids. 

BPL (free) membership allows you to check out some pretty terrific books, yes, but it also entitles you and your family to a lot of discounts and fun activities you might not know about. Many of these perks can be accessed online too. 

Also, for some of the best free fun around, don't forget to look at our daily calendar for storytimes and events among the stacks. What would we do without our libraries?!?

1. Score some museum passes. You can reserve passes at some of the city's greatest—and often priciest—tourist attractions by signing up online or at the library with your card. Plan your next visits to the Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, the Franklin Park Zoo, the New England Aquarium, and more just a little bit in advance by picking a date online that's available, and go for free.

Your library card can get you passes for discounted or free tickets to the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, and Museum of Fine Arts, among others. Photo by S. Cheng courtesy of New England Aquarium

2. Get a free hour on a kayak. During summer, you can pick up a coupon at any BPL branch for a one-hour kayak ride courtesy at any one of five Boating in Boston locations—Newton, Hopkinton, Natick, Stoneham, and Wakefield. Call and check first to see if coupons are available.

3. Park at a big beach or major park without digging into your wallet. It's hard enough to get the kids and gear there; then you have to shell out dough to park your car a half-mile away. A DCR pass through any of the BPL libraries entitles you to park one vehicle at several fun day-trip spots, including Walden Pond and Nantasket Beach.

Photo credit: gubbinsforever: Flickr

4. Download a book instantly. Craving a new read but haven't got time to schlep to the library? Thanks to the apps Overdrive and Hoopla, which have partnered with the BPL, you can borrow from up to 10 e-books at a time just by plugging in your membership number online.

Overdrive provides a huge collection of downloadable audio and ebooks, along with a mobile app for enjoying them. You can borrow up to 10 items at a time and put unavailable items on hold.  Hoopla lets you borrow music, movies, audiobooks, and more from your laptop or mobile phone.

5. Ride the ferry to Spectacle or another harbor island for half-price. With the Boston Harbor Islands library pass, you can buy-one, get-one-free when ordering up to four ferry tickets online, and and then pick them up on the day of your trip at the Ferry Center at Long Wharf.

Photo courtesy of Boston Harbor Cruises

6. Give your kids National Geographic Little Kids, Sports Illustrated Kids, Highlights, or some other award-winning magazine. Zinio, which you can unlock with your BPL card number, contains the latest issues of more than 5,000 magazines, including some out-of-print gems you might be nostalgic about. 

Zinio gives you access to the latest issues of over 5,000 popular magazines, plus older issues of certain titles.

7. Decompress with a great video. Sometimes, all anyone wants to do is watch a funny movie or show. Hoopla is best for borrowing videos to watch on the computer, tablet, or phone—a savior for sick days.

8. Introduce your preschooler to a new language. With the Little Pim language app, which card holders can access for free online, kids ages 3 to 6 can receive age-appropriate (read: fun) instruction in your choice of a dozen different languages.

9. Borrow a laptop or use a Computer.  Card holders in good standing can borrow a laptop for up to two hours in the library at every branch (except for the Central branch). If your house isn't a great place for you our your child to work, a laptop in a quiet spot at your local library can be a great option. Desktop computers are available as well.

10. Get test prep or homework help. A BPL card number gives you online access to LearningExpress Library, which offers practice quizzes and skill building exercises for kids in grade school and up. Several library branches also have tutors on hand to help with homework afterschool; call your local library to see if it's participating.