It's free: Area libraries add Pro Football HOF passes to new, existing programs

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The North Canton Public Library now offers passes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and Akron Zoo.
The North Canton Public Library now offers passes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and Akron Zoo.

NORTH CANTON – A library card is good for a lot more than books these days.

In addition to lending an array of technological tools and useful outdoor equipment (like sleds and ice skates), some local libraries now — or soon will — offer free admission and parking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

North Canton Public Library was the first to offer passes to the Hall when it debuted its Community Exploration Program in November. The library purchased family passes — including two passes each to the Akron Zoo and Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum — to offer them to patrons for free.

"Anyone with a library card can reserve one of those for a full week," said Christina Weyrick, the library's community relations manager. "They're passes for a family of four."

The online reservation system allows patrons to check out a single pass at a time and hold certain dates up to 30 days in advance. Weyrick said the program, which was "spearheaded" by library Director Andrea Legg, is expected to expand in the coming months to include more places.

The zoo and McKinley museum passes are reused and must be returned to the library, but the Hall passes are single-use and collected by the museum's box office. Weyrick said the library purchased about 50 passes to the Hall and will buy more, as needed.

"So that one works a little bit differently, but that's probably the most popular pass that we have right now," she said.

The passes cannot be used for special events.

Plain Township resident Melissa Kohan said she and her husband were enticed by North Canton Public Library's free pass to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"My husband and I both work for schools and we were going to be off over Christmas, so we thought that would be something fun to do, and it was very easy," she said. "You just need a library card and sign up online and that was it."

Kohan worked at the Hall in the late 1980s and early 1990s and wanted to see how it had changed. But she said they wouldn't have gone if not for the library program and might use the Akron Zoo pass in warmer weather.

"I just think it's great that they offer other community things to get people involved," Kohan said.

Why give away free passes?

Rich Desrosiers, vice president of communications and public relations for the Hall, said the arrangement aligns with the museum's efforts to connect with the local community and increase memberships.

"We want to get people visiting the museum who maybe have said, 'Oh, I've lived here all my life, I've never gone,'" he said.

General admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is $30 for adults and $23 for children, according to

Desrosiers said the Hall offered the same type of passes to other libraries after seeing how well received they were in North Canton. The museum has collected 12 passes from North Canton library members and two passes from Louisville library members in recent months.

"To us, that's great because that's approximately 50 people who attended and toured the museum that may not have otherwise," said Rob Sine, the Hall's senior director of sales, who worked directly with the libraries.

Sine and Desrosiers credited Legg for initiating the library outreach. The Hall has since provided passes to Louisville, Tuscarawas County and Stark County libraries.

Louisville Public Library distributed its 25 passes within two days in November, according to Director Brock Hutchison. The library has no immediate plans to offer more.

Stark County District Library plans to add the passes to its lineup — which has included the Canton Museum of Art and the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum for several years.

"We are excited that we recently entered into an agreement with the Hall of Fame to offer free passes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Communications Director Stephanie Cargill wrote in an email. "We will begin offering these passes in March."

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Area libraries add Pro Football HOF passes to new, existing programs

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