Calling all Californians! Dig up your library card to check out a free state park pass from your local library.

Starting this week, California State Library Parks Passes will be distributed to public libraries across the state for checkout by library patrons. The new pass will allow free vehicle day use entry at more than 200 participating state parks, California State Parks and the California State Library announced.

As part of a three-year pilot program starting in April, each library jurisdiction will receive at least three pass hangtags per branch for checkout by library patrons, including mobile libraries.

Park passes will enter circulation on a rolling basis throughout April and May for checkout by library patrons.

Library-card holders will be able to check out the pass for the allotted number of days allowed by the local library, then return the pass to the library for others to use.

The pass is valid for entry of one passenger vehicle with capacity of nine people or less or one highway licensed motorcycle at participating state park units.

“Libraries are trusted community hubs where Californians know they can find what they need to work, play, and thrive,” state librarian Greg Lucas said in a statement. “This partnership with State Parks now allows Californians to ‘check out’ California’s great outdoors at their community library.”

Research shows that spending time in the outdoors is associated with better mental and physical health, and that many Californians face barriers to accessing their parks, CA State Parks said in a news release.

“California has a wealth of state parks, and many public libraries are likely within driving distance of one,” the release states. “By reducing barriers to park access and partnering with entities such as public libraries, the state can help more Californians explore the outdoors and generate positive impacts in the area of health, natural resource stewardship, and historical and cultural connections.”

There are 1,184 public library buildings in the state, and more than 23 million Californians have library cards. From 2019 to 2020, these libraries circulated over 97 million items free of charge, such as books, technology, Wi-Fi hotspots, videos, music, instruments, tools, telescopes and more. And now, the California State Library Parks Pass program is one more way residents can be empowered through their libraries.

Additionally, the California State Library will be providing grant funding to libraries for outdoor-related items for checkout, programs that teach natural resource stewardship and outdoor skills, or to encourage their library patrons to enjoy the outdoors and make historical and cultural connections to parks.

Detailed information on the new California State Library Parks Program is available at CheckOutCAStateParks.com.