ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Saturday, libraries around the country will be participating in Take Your Child to the Library Day, encouraging families of all ages to bring their kids to the local library.
Not much of a reader? According to Monroe Co. Associate Library Director Jennifer Smathers, the thousands of books in Monroe County’s system are just one of the many perks of visiting your local library.
“We recommend here at Central — and in the Monroe County library system — any day can be take your kid to the library day, but there are some libraries that are running special programs,” she said.
While most people know about a library’s free access to movies, DVDs, and, of course, the internet, each library in the Greater Rochester Area has several non-book collections from which you can borrow.
Need to check your blood pressure? Ask the front desk at Central for a blood pressure cuff. Want to watch a ballet? You can rent one without setting foot in the library, via Hoopla and Overdrive. Want resources to start a legal marijuana business? From classes to free consultations, they’ve got you covered.
One of their most popular collections is the framed art prints — patrons can check out a piece of art the same way they would a book. Visitors can pick up to four pieces, and hang onto them for up to two months, for free.
Decades ago, every library in the system offered works of art that could be checked out like a book. But that has since been condensed to a collection of over 215 works available only at Central Library on South Avenue downtown.
”At any given time we have about a third of the collection checked out — and that’s pretty good for library materials,” Smathers said. Pre-pandemic, those numbers sat between 2/3 and 3/4 of the collection.
The art ranges from famous works by Degas, Van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo to local pieces, to more generic prints. For a short period, patrons could even check out sculptures, but this was discontinued in the 80s, Smathers shared.
To check out prints, head to the first floor of Central Library, where you’ll find several racks holding the bulk of the collection.
For those looking for a more hands-on opportunity, the Library also offers several free and discounted passes for experiences around the area.
The V.I.P. pass offers discounted and/or free admission to the Corning Museum of Glass, Rochester Museum and Science Center, Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion, Genesee Country Village & Museum, and more.
If you’re looking to get outside, the Empire Pass can get you into over 120 parks, beaches, lakes, and other natural areas around the enitrety of New York state, from Watkins Glen to Niagara Falls.
From sewing machines to games to access to the Democrat and Chronicle, the Monroe County Library system has much, much more than just books.
For a peek at some of the non-book options at all Monroe County libraries, visit their Beyond Books webpage. But for the most up-to-date understanding of what free opportunities are sitting in your local library, ask a librarian!