Sep 22, 2023 - Culture

You can get free things in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish with a library card

Illustration of a rolling pin rolling on top of a library due date card.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Library cardholders in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish have access to a "Library of Things" in addition to books, and the options are growing this month.

Why it matters: Libraries are a wonderful solution to stretch your money and fill your time in low-cost ways.

  • You can borrow Audubon Zoo passes, baking pans, wifi hotspots, musical instruments, construction equipment and more. Plus, there's always a story time, performance or educational workshop.

Driving the news: The Jefferson Parish Library is rolling out a free museum pass program similar to the popular one in New Orleans.

  • The Experience Passes program starts Sept. 30 and offers cardholders free tickets to the National WWII Museum, Jefferson Performing Arts Society, The Historic New Orleans Collection and Pontchartrain Conservancy (New Canal Lighthouse). Audubon tickets are not currently included in the Jefferson Parish program.
  • Passes can be reserved online or in person at a library branch.

At the New Orleans Public Library, cardholders can check out free passes for Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium, the New Orleans Museum of Art, National WWII Museum and more. Passes are reserved online.

photo shows the entrance of Audubon Zoo
New Orleans library cardholders can check out free passes to Audubon Zoo. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

Worth noting: The libraries offer reciprocal memberships — if you hold a card in one system, you can get one in the other with the same privileges.

  • The exception is Jefferson Parish residents can't use their cards to check out Culture Passes in New Orleans.

The big picture: Both library systems also have other items available for checkout, with the Jefferson Parish library expanding its options to the east bank next week. They include:

  • Microscopes, telescopes, sewing machines and more in Jefferson Parish;
  • Free seeds for fruits, vegetables and herbs in New Orleans.

Zoom in: The libraries also offer digital content, like e-books, audiobooks, streaming movies and streaming music.

Photo shows a kitten on a yoga mat
The Jefferson Parish Library offered free kitten yoga over the summer. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

What she's saying: "I truly believe a library card is the best card you could ever have in your wallet, and I, personally, never leave home without it," said Shannan Cvitanovic, executive director of the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library, in a statement.

What's next: The New Orleans library is giving prizes to anyone who signs up or renews their card in person this month.

  • Library cards are free for all Orleans Parish residents, plus anyone who has a valid library card in Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. Here's how to get a New Orleans library card.
  • Library cards are also free in Jefferson Parish to residents. Here's what to do.
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