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  • Maddie LaBerge

The Summer Resource You Never Knew You Needed: Your Local Public Library!

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

If you have known me for any amount of time, my ever-expanding love of public library systems has probably come up. And for good reason. Public libraries can go under the radar after you leave childhood and schooling and, for most people, this can lead to not reading altogether. But public libraries are treasure troves, not just of information and mixed media but of public resources, free events and competitions that can earn you some pretty cool prizes. If you aren't signing up for a library card right now... what are you doing?!

I (not-so-secretly) have two library cards, granting me access to two different systems of libraries. I do this to maximize my chance at getting new audiobooks with the shortest wait possible. I did this with Jennette McCurdy's "I'm Glad My Mom Died" and Prince Harry's "Spare." But if access to new books isn't convincing enough and you need some more encouragement, then read on.

books in a library

Culture Passes through the Phoenix Public Library System

The first time I heard of a 'culture pass' was through some friends while I was in college. Essentially, it is a program where, with a library card, you can check-out a paper slip that grants you admission for two people (totally free!!) for the following Arizona experiences:

Passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Be sure to plan your visit right when you pick the passes up, because they cannot be renewed and they cannot be placed on hold. Culture pass displays are in every location in the Phoenix Public Library system.

arcosanti in arizona

Culture Passes are available to check out during library​ hours. At checkout, staff will give you a date-due slip admitting two people for one visit to that museum or cultural institution during the following seven days. You do not need to return the slip; it will expire on its own. Be sure to read what the pass covers, most times passes are limited to general admission only. Special exhibitions may not be covered, and other restrictions may apply.​

You are limited to one pass per card at any one time, up to two passes per month.

I've used the culture pass program to see the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale's Western Museum and the Desert Botanical Gardens but I am ready to go experience so much more!

Summer Reading Program + Prizes For All Ages

I just signed up for the Summer Reading Program through my local branch. Most libraries have summer reading programs but I was so excited to see that Phoenix offers prizes for adults! Phoenix Public Library’s summer reading program allows readers of all ages to fall in love with reading and make reading a habit. Visit Play the Summer Reading Game to register, log your minutes, discover prizes, or plan your day at one of Phoenix Public Library’s 17 locations.

Now through August 1, people who sign up can earn points by reading, attending programs, completing challenges, finding secret codes, and more.


  • FREE Friends book

500 points

  • Raising Cane's coupon

  • Peter Piper Pizza coupon (Pre-Readers and Kids)

  • Scholastic Book (Pre-Readers, Kids, and Teens)

750 points

  • AZ State Parks Pass

  • Phoenix Mercury Tickets (online)

  • PPL Glitter Sticker (Kids and Teens)

1000 points

  • FREE new book (ordered online)

  • Super Reader Medal (Kids)

*Additional prizes vary by age group, minutes read and availability.

Grand Prize Drawings

Squishmallow (Pre-Readers, Kids, and Teens)

Fee Forgiveness

​$5 off fees for every 100 minutes read ($50 max per person; Pre-Readers, Kids, and Teens)

a red rock formation above forest trees in Sedona, Arizona

At 750 minutes every participant earns an Arizona State Parks Pass; at 1,000 minutes every participant earns a free book and every child reaching 1,000 minutes will be entered to win a Squishmallow grand prize. The excitement doesn’t stop there; visit your favorite Phoenix Public Library location for a variety of FREE fun-filled summer events for kids, teens and adults.

I am reading for myself but more-so for my Arizona State Parks Pass! Catch me at the library all summer long while I read in the air-conditioned, five-story Burton Barr library, win prizes and explore my beautiful desert state FOR FREE!

Read on, my friends.


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