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Correspondent

PEPPERELL — Pepperell residents are fortunate to live in an area with an abundance of museums catering to a wide variety of interests.

Unfortunately, as with everything else, the ticket price for museums has increased dramatically. A trip to the Boston Museum of Science for a family of four, for instance, will cost over $70 for tickets alone.

That hefty ticket price, in conjunction with tough economic times, is putting museums out of reach for many individuals and families.

However, a long-established yet underutilized program at Pepperell’s Lawrence Library is hoping to change that.

For over 20 years, Lawrence Library has run a museum pass program. Passes for free or discounted tickets are offered for museums and attractions from as near as Harvard and Acton to as far away as Boston.

The savings are substantial: That trip to the Museum of Science, using a pass from the library, would drop from over $70 to just under $20.

But despite the savings, patrons are still not taking advantage of the opportunity.

Library tracking indicates that some museum passes were checked out only twice for the entire year, and usage is down.

Library Director Debra Spratt attributes the disuse to a lack of awareness.

“There is a combination of reasons why the program is not being used as much as it could be, but primarily I think people are unaware that it even exists,” Spratt said.

Credit for the program belongs to The Friends of the Lawrence Library. The Friends is a nonprofit group formed to foster closer relations between the library and the community, to promote awareness of the library’s services and programs, and to raise funds for library purchases.

Twenty percent of the Friends’ annual budget is allotted to the running of the museum pass program. At the Nov. 13 Friends meeting, members decided to continue its funding and not remove any existing museums from the program.

Members also decided to push forward a campaign to publicize the museum pass program to more patrons and the community at large.

“Over the next three to four months, we will have in place the ability to do e-mail blasts,” said Spratt, “and can let people know about scheduled attractions at various museums.

“We will also be re-vamping the flier that outlines what passes we have, distributing to schools information on the program, and placing information on the town Web site,” she said.

Currently, the library offers passes to:

* Boston Children’s Museum

* Boston Museum of Fine Arts

* Boston Museum of Science

* DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln

* The Discovery Museums in Acton

* Fruitlands Museum in Harvard (seasonal)

* New England Quilt Museums, Lowell

* Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston

* The Butterfly Place, Westford

* Davis’ Farmland, Sterling (seasonal)

* Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

* Fitchburg Art Museum

* Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston

The library also offers parking passes to over 50 day-use facilities in the state parks system that charge a parking fee. All passes may be reserved by telephone, in person or online (www.lawrencelibrary.org). Passes may be reserved in advance of the planned visit.