Orange County Library System

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Coordinates: 28°32′32″N 81°22′37″W / 28.542252°N 81.377031°W / 28.542252; -81.377031

Orange County Library System
Orlando Public Library in 1986
Established 1923
Location 101 East Central Blvd., Orlando, Florida, 32801
Branches 15
Size 1.5 million items
Access and use
Population served more than 1 million Orange County Residents
Other information
Director Mary Anne Hodel
Staff Approx. 350

The Orange County Library System (OCLS) is a public library system located in the Orlando area of Central Florida. Its headquarters are at the Orlando Public Library in Downtown Orlando. The System is made up of 15 total locations, one main library (Orlando Public Library) and 14 branch locations. The Orange County Library System is a 501(c)3 organization. An OCLS Library card is necessary to access all services.

History of the Orlando Public Library[edit]

Before the Orlando Public Library came into existence, the Sorosis Club of Orlando maintained a circulating library for its members. This collection was initially on the second floor of the Old Armory Building on Court Street and was subsequently moved to the Knox building at Pine and Court Streets. On May 11, 1920, Orlando citizens showed by a vote of 417 to 19 that they wanted a public library and were willing to pay for it.

Albertson Public Library

Captain Charles L. Albertson, a retired Police Inspector of New York City, and a winter resident of Orlando, had for many years been collecting books at his home in Waverly, New York. In November 1920, Captain Albertson offered his collection to the City of Orlando on the condition that it furnish a suitable building to house it. The contract between the city of Orlando and Captain Albertson provided that Orlando would accept the gift of the Albertson collection and furnish the library building; that the library should be known as the Albertson Public Library; that Captain Albertson should be Advisory Superintendent of the Library throughout his lifetime; and that Orlando should suitably maintain the Library.

Preparation for the new 1966 building began in 1962 when construction of a new Main Library was approved by the Orlando voters, and the City acquired additional land adjacent to the original site. In 1964, the library moved to temporary headquarters at 905 North Orange Avenue until the Albertson building was demolished and construction began. The Orlando Public Library was dedicated on August 7, 1966. The architect was John M. Johansen of New Canaan, Connecticut. He called his design a "composition in monolithic concrete."

As early as 1974 the need to expand the Orlando Public Library was recognized. In 1978, the Library secured from the Orlando City Council a commitment for the whole block to the west of the existing site. In 1980 the voters approved the sale of $22 million in bonds for construction. At this time a special taxing district was also created which provides funds for the library.

In March 1985, the 1966 building was closed. The expansion opened to the public April 8, 1985. Work on renovating the old building began immediately. A Grand Opening Celebration for the expansion and renovation took place April 6, 1986.

The 290,000-square-foot (27,000 m2) building fills a whole city block. It was built with 19,000 cubic yards of concrete. A major challenge given to architect Duane Stark and his team was to design an expansion that would blend seamlessly with the original 1966 Johansen design. The measure of Stark's success is quite apparent in the exterior of the building. The color and texture of the new exterior walls were matched to the rough hewn cedar pattern of the original poured-concrete walls.[1]


There are 14 branches[2] located around Orange County and one main location, the Orlando Public Library. Some of the services they offer include gaming, programs, and computer classes taught in the English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole languages.

Library access[edit]

The Materials Access to Your Library (MAYL)[3] program allows library customers with resident cards to request materials for home delivery without charge. Most deliveries are made by Priority Express Parcel, a private courier. This popular service can circulate as much material as a branch location.

OCLS's web site provides access to the library's easy-search catalog,[4] information on programs and classes,[5] and electronic databases of information. [6] OCLS cardholders can also access the library on a smart phone or mobile device at a special the OCLS mobile web site.

Resources and Services[edit]

Materials: The library system circulates a large print collection of fiction and non-fiction titles. The expansive collection of materials also includes new and classic movies, music and audio books in multiple formats. The New Release DVDs are made available to cardholders on their actual release date. The library offers a large assortment of downloadable media including audiobooks, e-books, e-magazines, music and videos. [7]

Services: The library system offers a number of convenient services including technology classes,[8] language learning software,[9] live tutoring and practice test help,[10] access to databases,[11] interactive tutorials,[12] and topical eGuides[13] to name a few. In addition, each location regularly hosts free events for children, teens, adults and families. To satisfy the interests of a diverse community, these events range from health screenings to storytimes to cooking classes and even live concerts and stage shows.[14]

Assistance: The Orange County Library System performs mobile reference, in which staff roam the library buildings to assist customers. Each mobile reference staff member wears a Vocera Communications Badge, a wireless device that uses voice recognition software to enable communication amongst staff and customers. The Orlando Public Library houses Questline (407.835.7323), the library’s telephone call center. Questline assistants help customers with account information, material requests and reference questions. Questline staff also provide digital reference services through email and chat via Ask-a-Librarian.


Through its website,, OCLS offers podcasts and video podcasts of storytelling and other library events, blogs, and virtual galleries on topics that include travel, history, holidays, and more. OCLS cardholders have access to a variety of electronic resources, including databases, downloadable audio books, e-books, streaming videos, and virtual computer classes. The library system features free Wi-Fi access in all locations for library card holders and allows non-card holders to pay a fee for temporary use.[15] In addition, all locations house public computers with Internet access. Several locations provide self-checkout stations that allow customers to check out materials on their own. The library materials that are housed in self-checkout locations are given Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, which store information about the items and identify material at the point of checkout. OCLS was the first public library to offer RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. To those who subscribe to the feeds, the library delivers news about library events, new technology, and information for children and teens.

The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity[edit]

Through a generous gift from the Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation, the Library opened The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity (Melrose Center). Named for Mr. Melrose’s mother who had a strong interest in emerging technologies, the Center is located in 26,000 sq. ft. of space on the Orlando Public Library’s second floor. The Melrose Center offers access to an Audio, Video and Photo Studio, Fablab, Simulation Lab, Research and Collaboration Space, Digital Wall, Classroom, Conference Room, and monthly Tech Talks in Tech Central.[16]

Dorothy Lumley Melrose, originally from Chicago and a graduate of the University of Illinois, moved with her husband to Orlando in the 1930s. While raising a family, Dorothy taught math, English, and public speaking at Memorial Junior High School.[17]

Her youngest son, Kendrick Melrose, a Boone High School graduate and former CEO of Toro, announced the donation in his mother’s honor. The Melrose Center memorializes a woman who was always teaching, learning, and giving back to her community. “She helped raise money to rebuild what is now the Orlando Public Library, taught at Memorial Middle School and later in life became the first female stockbroker in the city.”[18]

“The $1 million from Melrose’s family foundation is the largest single donation ever made to the Orange County Library System, which was named the Library of the Future in 2011 by the American Library Association.” At a time when technology is changing the way we think about libraries and library services, the Melrose Center transforms the Orlando Public Library into arguably one of the most forward-thinking libraries in the country. Says Mary Anne Hodel, the Director and CEO of the Orange County Library System, “As far as we know, no other library in the country will have this range of capabilities.”[19]

The purpose of the Melrose Center is to “serve the community by providing introductory and “amateur” enthusiasts an opportunity for hands-on exploration, experimentation and experience. Whenever possible, we focus on the use of open source resources, so that our customers have the opportunity to replicate and practice. The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center has been designed with collaboration and sharing in mind. We support the “cross pollination” of ideas, which provides a natural environment for spontaneous creative expression.”[20] With this addition, OCLS fortifies its foundation in the future landscape of library services.

Friends of the Library[edit]

The Friends of the Orange County Library System is a 501 (c) 3 organization first organized in 1947 by a group of local citizens. The Friends raise funds for the Library System and educate people about the role of libraries in the community. The Friends of The Library Bookstore sells books, CDs, Vinyl, DVDs and more and is located on the 3rd floor of the Orlando Public Library. The Friends of the Library Gifts and Greetings store is located in the lobby of the Orlando Public Library and offers unique gifts, cards and jewelry.[21]


The Orange County Library System has been honored with numerous awards[22] and recognitions over the years and are regularly invited to present at major national conferences. A partial listing of recent awards and grants appears below:

  • American Library Association 2013 Cutting Edge Service

Awarded in recognition of the The Right Service at the Right Time mobile app which addresses a growing need in public libraries to aid library patrons seeking government assistance, which increasingly is accessible only online.

  • OCLS Receives Honorable Mention in 2013 Marcom Awards

The library received an Honorable Mention in the 2013 MarCom Awards for its op-ed piece on National Library Week.

  • Books & Beyond Wins Gold 2013 MarCom Award

The Books & Beyond newsletter has won a Gold 2013 MarCom Award in the category of external newsletter for a nonprofit.

  • OCLS Receives PrimeTime Family Reading Time Grant

The Florida Humanities Council awarded the library system an $8,000 grant to support training and programming for the three six-week PrimeTime Family Reading Time programs to occur in 2014.

  • ALA Names OCLS Winner of ALA OITP Merit Award

The American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy has named Orange County Library system of Orlando, Florida, the 2013 winner of their merit award.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Orlando's First Library". 
  2. ^ "OCLS Locations". 
  3. ^ "MAYL". 
  4. ^ "OCLS Catalog". 
  5. ^ "OCLS Classes and Programs". 
  6. ^ "OCLS databases". 
  7. ^ "Downloadable Media". 
  8. ^ "Technology Classes". 
  9. ^ "Language Learning Databases". 
  10. ^ "Homework Help Databases". 
  11. ^ "OCLS Databases". 
  12. ^ "Online Tutorials". 
  13. ^ "OCLS eGuides". 
  14. ^ "OCLS Classes and Programs". 
  15. ^ Accessing Orange County Library Wireless
  16. ^ "Melrose Center". 
  17. ^ Dickinson, J. W. (2014, February 2). New Library Center's Namesake: 'Second Mom' and Trailblazer. Retrieved November 18, 2014, from Orlando Sentinel:,0,4950754.column
  18. ^ Santich, K. (2012, April 16). $1 Million Donation Will Transform Orlando Library Into Digital Playground. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from Orlando Sentinel:
  19. ^ Schwartz, M. (2012, April 18). Orlando Library Donation to Build Creative Technology Center. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from Library Journal:
  20. ^ Orange County Library System. (n.d.). About - The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center. Retrieved November 18, 2014, from Orange County Library System:
  21. ^ "FOL Bookstore & Gifts & Greetings". 
  22. ^ "OCLS Awards and Recognition". 

External links[edit]