Shhh…Don’t tell everyone.

I just found out recently that the San Francisco Public Library has a cool offering for parents. It’s a free pass to any one of a huge number of places to go in San Francisco like The Aquarium of the Bay, California Academy of Sciences, Cartoon Art Museum, California Historical Society, Exploratorium, The Walt Disney Museum and much, much more.

Now some of these places would cost you over $50 to take your family, but with your library card you just clic on the logo to the right and it’ll take you to the website where you can ask for the pass. You then go to the local branch and pick it up and you’re set. When you’re done you just return the pass card to any library.

We all know that times are tough and when you have kids it costs big bucks to entertain them. These free passes are a little known fact that I just came across when my wife and I visited the main library and now you can access everything to get you to these places online and remember…it’s free!

SF Public Library: It’s more than just a website!

I did something today I normally don’t do. I got talked into visiting my public library by my wife. This is the main branch that’s downtown. I’ve never been much for public libraries after I graduated from college. They always seemed to be like they were dank and archaic and the “new books” area always had books from 10 years ago.

OK, I got a big surprise, shock is more like it. This place is huge. Six stories with a lower level that has a cafe. Everywhere you look there are tables with power outlets and ethernet cables so you can hook up to their internet. They even have computers there if you don’t have one that not only give you web access, but some of them have Microsoft Office on them as well and there are printers that they actually let you print out to for free! Let’s also not forget all the meeting rooms you can reserve for free!

I’ve always been an online type of guy. Life with google makes it easy to find information, but today I realized that you can get more information from a book than a google search. I know what most of you are think, yeah, ok, DUH. It just hit home with me today after of course noticing that the librarians now aren’t the old grandmotherly type women with scours on their face and those glasses with the little chains on them going around their neck. The librarians are hip now!

The architecture of the building is incredible and you can get off at Civic Center BART/Muni station and all you have to do is cross the street to get in. They also have many rooms with displays and exhibits making it a sort of free museum as well. The Main library also has the largest collection of historical records for San Francisco. I was able to find all the specifics of my home and information on the builder and saw all the permits. I have to say I was pretty impressed by it all and it’s more than just books. They have a large audio visual collection and the machines for you to watch DVD’s, VHS or listen to CD’s. If you haven’t been, you definitely have to check it out since it has more than you local branches have to offer, plus when you get your free library card you can also access their online collection of eBooks and podcasts as well. If you’re not a resident you can get a visitor’s temporary card from them as well.