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Having Fun Isn't Hard When You've Got a Library Card

Having Fun Isn't Hard When You've Got a Library Card

By Simon Hung

If you've ever watched the show Arthur, you may recognize this phrase as the chorus to a very catchy song from an episode of the show. Not only is it a great melody, but the statement also rings true in many Canadian cities, where you can take advantage of some great benefits if you own a library card.


We apologize in advance for getting this song stuck in your head.

Everybody knows about borrowing books, movies and even video games, but the library is also a fantastic resource for all kinds of information. There are a number of unique services for adults and kids inside your local library that can provide them with a wealth of knowledge and develop skills. But, there are also some unadvertised (and usually free) perks outside of the library that you can take advantage of. The library can indeed be a fun place – you just need to know where to look.

We’ve rounded up some of these perks from libraries across Canada and have them listed below:

Calgary Public Library

The Calgary Public Library offers its members access to the Sun Life Financial Arts and Culture Pass. This pass is available to all Calgary residents who own both a valid library card and a Fee Assistance Card from the City of Calgary. You can find out more about the Fee Assistance program here. To apply, visit the Municipal Building or the Village Square branch in-person or call 311 to speak with a city representative.

There are a total of 18 participating library branches that have access to the Arts and Culture Pass, with partners including the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Zoo and more. Having a pass allows for qualifying individuals and families tickets to a number of events and attractions across Calgary for free or at a significant discount. Their events listing page contains details on upcoming events with available passes.

Edmonton Public Library

While the Edmonton Public Library doesn’t have access to arts and attractions passes like other libraries, they do have some great programs that are unique and set them apart from other libraries in Canada.

With a valid library membership, you’re entitled to view courses on Lynda.com -- one of the world’s largest e-learning websites. Lynda.com has over 3,000 video tutorials and courses from experts, with topics on 3D game design, video editing, architecture, marketing and more. A basic membership for this service usually costs $19.99 per month, so having this included with your free library card is a great value.

Plus, the Stanley A. Milner branch contains an excellent makerspace for creative individuals, with access to items including 3D printers, green screens, sound booths, creative workstations and more.

Hamilton Public Library

The Hamilton Public Library offers free museum passes for families of up to two adults and two children. With the pass, you have access to a number of local museums to learn about the history of Hamilton and the surrounding area. Participating venues include the Battlefield House Museum, Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology and more. Passes work like books and you can hold and borrow them for up to two weeks, though they are limited in quantity.

Also, like with the Edmonton Public Library, the Hamilton Public Library offers their members full access to Lynda.com and all of their great learning resources.

Ottawa Public Library

The Ottawa Public Library offers passes to many of the great museums and art galleries throughout the nation’s capital. There is a limit of two passes per library card available for up to a seven day loan.

There are seven varieties of passes for different venues and family sizes, and participating venues include the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Canadian War Museum and more. Click here for a full list of available passes and venues.

A number of libraries in Ottawa's neighbouring suburbs, including Bonnechere, Clarence-Rockland, Gatineau, Hawkesbury, Pembroke, Petawawa and Smith Falls, also have access to passes to attractions in the Ottawa region.

Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Public Library offers its members access to the Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass. This pass allows for a family of up to two adults and five children to explore a number of museums and attractions across the Greater Toronto Area for free, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, eight City of Toronto historic sites, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo and more.

Passes are limited and you are eligible to obtain one with a valid library card in good standing. Passes to different venues are available at different branches once per week on a first-come, first-serve basis (some branches conduct random draws). They are snatched up quickly, so call your local branch for more information and be prepared to go early once available to claim yours.

In addition to arts passes, the Toronto Public Library also offers pedometer lending to anybody who’s looking to track their walking or running exercises. They are available for hold and loan at all library branches – click here to see a full list of availability.

Vancouver Public Library

The Vancouver Public Library offers the Vancouver Inspiration Pass to library card holders. This pass is available to members over the age of 14 and offers free admission to a number of top attractions and recreation facilities in the Greater Vancouver Area, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Aquarium, Museum of Vancouver, Science World and more. Click here to view a list of all participating venues. One pass is valid for a family of two adults and up to four children, or a group of six people aged 14-18.

Passes are limited to one use per card holder per year. There are a total of 140 passes available for loan every two weeks, with 20 at Vancouver Public Library's central branch and six at all other branches. Reservations for passes must be made in advance via their online catalogue.

Winnipeg Public Library

Library card holders with the Winnipeg Public Library are entitled to the Theatre+ Arts Pass. This pass is available on the first of each month on a first-come, first-serve basis to all library card owners in good standing. Passes are available from January-June and July-December, and there is a limit of one pass per library card during each period. They are available to borrow from seven branches: Millennium Library, Munroe Library, Pembina Trail Library, St. Boniface Library, St. John's Library, Sir William Stephenson Library and West End Library.

The Theatre+ Arts Pass allows for admission to venues including the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and more. Each pass is valid for a limited number of tickets for one performance or event, depending on the venue.

With each city, the number of passes are limited and are usually available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call ahead to your local branch to find out about the exact number of passes and their availability.

Did we miss a city? Does your local library offer any unique perks? Let us know in the comments and be sure to share this article with anyone who'd be interested in these perks!

As a final send-off, here's another (arguably catchier) book-related song from the same episode of Arthur.

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