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Posted on: March 30, 2021

Check Out Washington program now serves libraries statewide

Legislation, funding allowed for increased library participation

OLYMPIA – March 30, 2021 – Washington State Parks and the Washington State Library have expanded the Check Out Washington program to libraries across the state.

Check Out Washington allows patrons of participating libraries to borrow a special Library Discover Pass for one week. The program launched as a pilot project in 2019 and expanded in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This latest program expansion offers increased access to Washington’s state lands, particularly for those living in rural communities with smaller library systems.

Last year, the Washington State Legislature approved $35,000 in funding for Washington State Parks to provide these special Discover Passes to libraries participating in the program. These Discover Passes are valued at $50 and may be transferred between cars, versus the annual non-library Discover Pass, which costs $30 and has a two-car license plate limit.

Sen. Andy Billig from Spokane introduced the legislation, with the intent to make two Library Discover Passes available annually to every library outlet that requests them. (Libraries can purchase more passes if they wish.) The budget covers the cost of 700 of the special Discover Passes a year, in perpetuity. 

To date, libraries across the state have requested 455 special Discover Passes for patrons to borrow, up from 309 in 2020. 

Library cardholders may use the pass to access parks and recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Many libraries have begun to reopen with limited capacity, while others will continue to provide curbside pickup. Find a list of participating libraries or contact your local participating library. 

The pilot program originally included activity packs with binoculars and field guides and was funded by the Washington State Parks Foundation. Due to COVID cleaning requirements between uses, most libraries will not lend out the backpacks this year.

In addition to offering Discover Passes through Check Out Washington, several libraries offer pass programs through which patrons can visit museums and other cultural attractions at no charge. 

News media contacts:
Meryl Lassen, Washington State Parks, (503) 490-8796, media@parks.wa.gov
Kylee Zabel, Office of the Secretary of State, (360) 902-4140, kylee.zabel@sos.wa.gov

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About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. 

About Washington State Library 

The Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, is committed to connecting Washington through the power of libraries. It builds prosperous and informed communities by providing technology, access to information, resources, and professional support to librarians and/or citizens across the state. The Library also works hard to collect, preserve and make accessible materials on the government, history, culture and natural resources of the state. Finally, through its branch services, the library supports the information needs of residents in state institutions and those who cannot read standard print. 

News release number: 21-017

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