Nolte is one of the many state parks you could visit with Pierce County Library System and Washington State Parks’ new “Check Out Washington” program. Photo courtesy Washington State Park

Nolte is one of the many state parks you could visit with Pierce County Library System and Washington State Parks’ new “Check Out Washington” program. Photo courtesy Washington State Park

‘Activity backpacks’ for exploring state parks to be available at your local library

There are several guidelines to make checking out the backpacks a smooth process.

A new Washington State Parks pilot program will soon allow Pierce County Library System patrons to check out “activity backpacks” from their local library to better enjoy Washington’s great outdoors.

The backpacks, which will include a pair of binoculars, field guides, and other interpretive materials, will become available to check out starting March 1.

But there are a limited number of backpacks, said State Parks spokeswoman Meryl Lipman, and a few guidelines to follow.

First, there are only 20 backpacks total in the Pierce County Library System, one for each branch — meaning the Buckley, Bonney Lake, and Sumner libraries only have one backpack at a time.

Second, you are able to find out if your local branch’s backpack is available online, but you are unable to check it out online. Additionally, backpacks are available on “a first-come-first-served basis,” a press release reads, meaning you’re also unable to put a backpack on hold or put your name on a waiting list.

Backpacks must be picked up in person, and can be checked out for a week, Lipman continued, though they cannot be renewed for another week.

Like books, the backpack can be returned to any library, and the internal mailing system will see it returns to its original library.

You must have a Pierce County Library System library card to check out a backpack. However, “Tacoma or King County library members are entitled to reciprocal card, but still have to come to Pierce County to get the backpack and return it,” Lipman said.

Lipman added the Spokane, Spokane County, and Mount Vernon library systems are also participating in this pilot program, which may be expanded in the future depending on patron interest, though how backpacks are checked out in those systems may differ from PCLS.

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