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
Orange County Library System
Location101 East Central Blvd., Orlando, Florida, 32801
Size1.9 million items
Access and use
Population servedMore than 1 million Orange County Residents
Other information
DirectorMary Anne Hodel
StaffApprox. 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 located at 101 E. Central Blvd. Orlando, FL 32801. The System is made up of 16 total locations, one main library (Orlando Public Library) and 15 branch locations. The Orange County Library System is a 501(c)3 organization. The (OCLS) Mission Statement is "Where you engage in amazing experiences and opportunities to learn, explore, and create the best you." [1]

History of the Orlando Public Library[edit]

Before the Orlando Public Library came into existence, the Sorosis Club of Orlando [2] 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 the intersection of Pine and Court Street. 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.

In 1924, the Booker T. Washington Branch of the Albertson Library was opened in 1924 to service the African American community of West Orlando. This branch library was originally established in the former rectory of an Episcopal church.[3] Eddie T. Jackson would assume the role as librarian, making her Orlando's first African American librarian, and would serve as such until her retirement in 1946.[4] The library was relocated to a new building in 1954 and would stay in that building until 1984, when it was incorporated into the Washington Park Library in the Lila Mitchell Community Center.[5]

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.[6]


There are 15 branches[7] 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.

Materials Access to Your Library[edit]

The Materials Access to Your Library (MAYL)[8] is the Orange County Library System's free home delivery of requested material. MAYL was started in 1974 and is considered a "virtual branch." Items that can be requested via the MAYL service include audiobooks, music CDs, books, and DVDs. The Orange County Library System used to circulate video games, but this was stopped in order to reduce operating expenses; patrons are still able to access gaming programs at library branch locations.[9]

Orange County Library Systems also used to offer an Inter-Library Loan program, but this was stopped in 2010 due to low demand and replaced with a service called Suggest-A-Title.[10]

Resources and services[edit]

Materials: The library system has an expansive collection of materials. OCLS offers access to books, DVDs, CDs, audio books and more. The New Release DVDs are made available to cardholders on their actual release date. The library also offers a large assortment of downloadable media including audiobooks (OverDrive, Hoopla or OneClickdigital) e-books (OverDrive, axis360 or Freading), e-magazines (Zinio for Libraries), music (Hoopla or Freegal Music) and videos (OverDrive, Freegal or Hoopla).[11]

Services: The library system offers a number of services including technology classes,[12] language learning software,[13] live tutoring and practice test help,[14] access to databases,[15] interactive tutorials,[16] topical LibGuides,[17] and a Talking Books Collection[18] 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.[19]

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 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.

Newsletters: The Orange County Library System offers many ways to stay up to date with programs and events happening at libraries in the county. The library's Books & Beyond monthly newsletter highlights programs, technology classes and many other special events happening across the library system. Patrons can receive a free printed copy at any Orange County library or view the PDF version online. In addition, patrons can sign up for the newsletter to be sent to their email address.[20] In October 2016, the Books & Beyond newsletter won two MarCom awards in the External Newsletter for a Nonprofit category. The award, given by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, recognizes outstanding creative achievement.[21]


Through its website, OCLS offers podcasts and video podcasts of storytelling and other library events, blogs, and LibGuides 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.[22] 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 & 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). The center is named for Mr. Melrose's mother, who had a strong interest in emerging technologies, and played a role in rebuilding the Orlando Public Library. It 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.[23] Some of the simulations offered by the Melrose Center include driving simulators, forklift simulators, and flying simulators[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[26]

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.[27]

Grants, awards, and recognition[edit]

The Orange County Library System has received numerous awards from various organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Library Association, and the Florida Library Association.[28] In 2017, the library received the Dollar General Literacy Foundation Award for $10,000. In addition, Library Journal magazine gave a special mention to OCLS in its 2017 Library of the Year program. In June 2017, the library received a $25,000 grant for the Sunshine State Author Series from the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs. This grant will allow the library to bring in popular and award-winning authors for readings, book discussions and writing workshops geared towards children, teens and young adults. Some of the authors include Sharon Draper, Sarah Weeks and Jason Reynolds.[29] In August 2018, the library was a recipient of the Disney Grant for $50,000.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Florida Library History Project
  3. ^ "Library History". Orange County Library System. 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  4. ^ "Eddie T. Jackson - Painting | Orlando Memory". Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  5. ^ "Booker T. Washington Branch Library - Open House Brochure | Orlando Memory". Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  6. ^ "Library History".
  7. ^ "OCLS Locations".
  8. ^ "MAYL".
  9. ^ "- Confused | Orange County Library System | Orlando, Florida". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  10. ^ "Suggest-A-Title".
  11. ^ "Downloadable Media".
  12. ^ "Technology Classes".
  13. ^ "Language Learning Databases".
  14. ^ "Homework Help Databases".
  15. ^ "OCLS Databases".
  16. ^ "Online Tutorials".
  17. ^ "OCLS LibGuides".
  18. ^ Orange County Library System, Talking Books and Players.
  19. ^ "OCLS Classes and Programs".
  20. ^ "Does OCLS have a newsletter?". Orange County Library System. 2016-04-13. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  21. ^ "Awards & Recognition". Orange County Library System. 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  22. ^ Accessing Orange County Library Wireless
  23. ^ "Melrose Center".
  24. ^ "Classes & Programs". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  25. ^ 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
  26. ^ a b Santich, K. (2012, April 16). $1 Million Donation Will Transform Orlando Library Into Digital Playground. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from Orlando Sentinel:
  27. ^ "FOL Bookstore & Gifts & Greetings".
  28. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ "Awards and Recognitions - Press Room | Orange County Library System | Orlando, Florida". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  30. ^ "Board Meetings & Minutes" (PDF file for Sept 17, 2017 meeting agenda is where the information is located.). Orange County Library System. 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2017-09-26.