FREMONT — Public libraries have always been a bargain, but a new program gives members of some Alameda County libraries access to more than just free books and DVDs.

The libraries recently purchased annual passes to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco that are available for checkout. Each pass is good for two adults. Children younger than 12 get into the museum for free without a pass.

The passes, which went into circulation last month, have been a hit in Fremont. Already, Fremont's two passes have been reserved through July, and the library is taking reservations for August, reference manager Sallie Pine said.

Union City, which doesn't accept reservations, also has seen strong demand for its two passes.

"It usually doesn't last more than a few hours, and then it goes out again," reference librarian Larry Duckwall said.

The Asian Art Museum, at 200 Larkin St., near the Civic Center BART station, contains more than 17,000 artworks spanning 6,000 years of history. The museum is one of only a few San Francisco art museums — the de Young and Legion of Honor are two others — that sell annual memberships to libraries, said Stacy Rackusin, the Asian Art Museum's acting manager of membership.

Several libraries in Marin County also have purchased annual memberships to the Asian Art Museum, she said.

Each city in the Alameda County library system had the opportunity to pay $500 for a museum membership, which includes two annual passes that patrons can check out as they would a book.


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Rackusin said. Fremont's passes were funded by Friends of the Fremont Main Library.

Passes also are available at the main libraries in Dublin, San Lorenzo, Union City, Castro Valley, Albany and Newark. Alameda County library card holders can check out the passes at the library information desk.

The passes can be taken out for up to a week and are always due back on Monday. Fremont doesn't offer passes to other museums.

Fremont reporter Matthew Artz can be reached at 510-353-7002 or martz@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read his blog posts at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.