Library partners with central Ohio cultural institutions to offer free admission for cardholders

Partners include the Wex, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and more

COLUMBUS—Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) offers its cardholders free admission to select central Ohio cultural institutions. The Culture Pass program enables CML customers to borrow passes just as they would a book: using their library card. This onetime pass, which must be checked out in person, grants customers limited free access to institutions that would otherwise charge admission fees.

CML piloted the program in 2018, offering Culture Passes to Franklin Park Conservatory and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Since then, CML has worked to expand the number of participating organizations. Newly added this month: the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

“With the help of our community partners, we’re working to expose all central Ohioans to the many renowned cultural gems we are fortunate to have at our doorstep,” said CML Chief Community Engagement Officer Donna Zuiderweg. “As a public library, our role is to ensure equal access to all, and that goes well beyond books.”

Current participating cultural organizations:

  • Columbus Museum of Art: Passes available at all 23 CML locations
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: Passes available at CML’s Main Library and Barnett, Driving Park, Franklinton, Hilltop, Karl Road, Linden, Marion-Franklin, Martin Luther King, Northern Lights, Northside, Parsons, Shepard and Whitehall branches
  • Franklin Park Conservatory: Passes available at CML’s Driving Park, Martin Luther King and Shepard branches
  • National Veterans Memorial and Museum: Passes available at CML’s Main Library and Barnett, Franklinton, Martin Luther King and Parsons branches
  • Ohio History Center: Passes available at CML’s Karl Road, Linden, Northern Lights and Northside branches
  • Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art: Passes available at all 23 CML locations
  • Wexner Center for the Arts: Passes available at all 23 CML locations

The Culture Pass program offers each participating institution the opportunity to select which specific CML locations will offer their passes based on the neighborhoods and communities associated with their outreach, diversity and inclusion goals. Therefore, Culture Passes are only available for in-person customer checkout at the specific CML locations listed above. Culture Passes cannot be reserved like traditional library items, however customers can check their availability at by typing “Culture Pass” into the catalog search bar.

Each participating organization offers their passes to CML and its customers for free. CML does not purchase passes as it does with traditional library materials. Each organization sets its own rules for how many individuals are covered under its passes and on which days the passes will be honored. Partner organizations also set the number of passes allotted to each designated CML location. Many of the participating organizations remain closed – or open in a limited capacity – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, customers who check out a Culture Pass are advised to call the organization ahead of their visit for hours and rules, or to redeem their pass for a timed ticket.

Columbus Metropolitan Library, celebrating 150 years in 2023, has served the people of Franklin County, Ohio since 1873. With its Main Library and 22 branches, CML is well known for signature services and programs like School Help, Reading Buddies, Summer Reading Challenge and Ready for Kindergarten. The library’s Strategic Plan supports the vision of “a thriving community where wisdom prevails,” which positions CML to respond to areas of urgent need: kids unprepared for kindergarten, third grade reading proficiency, high school graduation, college and career readiness and employment resources.


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