On the Library as Culture Pass

If you don’t have a library card [in NY City], there are now 33 more reasons to get one. Starting Monday, cardholders from any of the city’s three systems can get free admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and 30 other cultural institutions across the five boroughs. The ‘Culture Pass’ program aims to give more city residents — especially those in underserved communities — access to museums and other sites. ‘I think it’s one of the greatest things to happen,’ said Queens Library CEO Dennis Walcott. ‘It really shows that libraries are the connective tissue to the public at large.’

"‘Culture Pass’ Turns City Library Cards into Admission for 33 Cultural Institutions" - amny.com/things-to-do/nyc-library-culture-pass-1.19845212. It's a brilliant idea in my view and one consistent with the important role of libraries in urban centers. One of my favorite spots to visit in Melbourne's CBD is the State Library of Victoria. One afternoon last July its main reading room (image here) was completely abuzz with people: international university students being tutored in English; secondary students practicing their algebra and business Japanese; and, the rest of us taking in the atmosphere as inspiration to read and think. These days I travel to Sydney's Mitchell Library in the State Library of NSW, with its own perfectly lit reading spaces. It is almost always similarly chock full of readers. In any case, I think NY city libraries are trailblazing a model as ancient as the library of Alexandria, with its museums and spaces for discussion as well as reading and thought. Libraries do not lose their importance in a digital age. They rather seem to be finding new ways to speak to the human desire for connection.