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Insider Article [September 2012] [08/27/12] (Discover and Go)
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California Libraries Transform Access to Cultural Venues with Discover & Go

What innovative new service is experiencing a surge in libraries flocking to join? And has people signing up for library cards? And is generating a whole lot of positive feedback from the public? Discover & Go, the first downloadable museum pass management platform for multiple library systems, is providing happy cardholders in Northern California with free, online-accessible passes to dozens of museums and cultural venues.

Traditionally, libraries that circulate museum passes make them available to their patrons on a first-come, first-served basis in physical library locations. Passes must be picked up at the library and returned to the library on time in order for the next patron to be able to pick up their pass.  This method leads to inequities in service and cuts down on the number of visits that the library and museums can offer. 

With funds from a Bay Area Library and Information System (BALIS) grant and assistance from web developer Quipu Group, Contra Costa County Library created, developed, and implemented an online reservation system that provides access to more museums and more passes for all of the libraries that join the Discover & Go Network. Since the launch of Discover & Go in January 2011, the growth of the service has been phenomenal, making over 31,000 free cultural visits possible for Bay Area families with library cards.

The Discover & Go Network currently includes more than 20 county and city libraries from around the Bay Area including Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo. Future development will include expansion into Southern California, making it possible for library cardholders to book passes to both local venues and museums elsewhere in the state.

Each library in the Discover & Go Network shares the annual cost of the service, shares responsibility for adding new cultural venues, and launches with an Opening Day Collection of museum pass offers that Contra Costa has negotiated on behalf of the Network. In addition, each library is set up with their own pool of museum passes for their own cardholders, which are not affected by new library members joining the Network.

Discover & Go also presents endless possibilities for libraries in marketing, programming, and partnering with community organizations and cultural venues. For example, in an effort to promote the service and make it even more accessible for patrons, Contra Costa County Library partnered with 511 Contra Costa to offer free BART passes for Discover & Go visits during the month of August 2012.

To find out more about your library joining the Discover & Go Network, contact, visit the Discover & Go support site for member libraries at, or come along to our program at the CLA conference!

Susan Kantor-Horning and Paula MacKinnon
Contra Costa County Library