The Greater Victoria Public Library offers more than just books, giving those with a library card the opportunity to check out passes to local attractions.
The only catch is there’s almost a year-long waiting list for some of the venues.
The GVPL offers passes to the Victoria Butterfly Garden, the Maritime Museum of B.C., Craigdarroch Castle, Saanich Recreation, the Robert Bateman Centre, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Royal BC Museum.
While the GVPL has 20 copies of the pass that will get a family into the museum, there are currently 2,774 holds on that pass.
Daphne Wood, director of library services, says a rough way to calculate the waiting time is to multiply the number of holds by a week, which is the length of time each pass is able to be borrowed for.
“This isn’t an exact science, of course, because if some people borrow an item for a week and return it after two days … the passes can be in circulation much faster than if they hold it for the entire borrowing period,” says Wood.
Luckily there are some ways to bypass the waitlist. Both the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and the Craigdarroch Castle are available with an e-pass, which will return itself automatically after it’s been used. There are zero holds for the e-passes in comparison to the 629 holds of the one pass for the castle, and the 697 holds on the Butterfly Gardens — which would be 13 years if every person kept the pass for a week.
“Given that you can bring friends and family to visit these venues, [the passes] represent a considerable cost saving for those who want to go and visit an experience,” says Wood.
In addition to the e-pass workaround, thanks to the support of an individual donor, another 20 museum passes will be added into the rotation soon, which Wood says will dramatically decrease the wait time.
According to Wood, the demand can be dependent on certain exhibits that might be featured at some of the venues, along with the time of year with a number of families signing up during spring break.
“We always caution that there is a process to place a hold, and unfortunately it does require some pre-planning,” she says, adding that if you plan it right there’s a lot of material that can help your understanding of those exhibits.
“If you’re excited about the [orca exhibit] coming up at the museum, there’s so much for you to explore at the library that would enrich your experience,” says Wood.
People can request to borrow the pass and put it on hold through the online catalog on the library’s website, and to sign up for a library card — which takes less than two minutes — you can do it there as well. For more information visit gvpl.ca.