Orange County Library System

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

Orange County Library System
Location101 East Central Boulevard, Orlando, Florida
Size1.9 million items
Access and use
Population served~1 million
Other information
DirectorSteve Powell (interim)

The Orange County Library System (OCLS) is a public library system serving the Orlando area of Central Florida. It iss headquartered in the Orlando Public Library in Downtown Orlando. The System consists of 15 total locations, one main library (Orlando Public Library) and 14 branch locations. In 2020, the library system employed over 350 staff throughout the system, serving more than one million Orange County residents.[1] The Orange County Library System is a 501(c)3 organization.[2] The library system is led by its chief executive officer, Steve Powell, and a five-member Library Board of Trustees.[3] [4]

History of the Orlando Public Library[edit]

Before the Orlando Public Library came into existence, the Sorosis Club of Orlando [5] 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] The building was purchased by the Shiloh Baptist Church in 1994 and renamed the building the T.C. Collier Center. A plaque now hangs at the 528 West Jackson Street location, in honor of the Booker T. Washington Library and its librarian Mrs. Gloria Riley Merriett.[10]

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. 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 challenge was given to architect Duane Stark and his team to design an expansion that would blend seamlessly with the original 1966 Johansen design. The color and texture of the new exterior walls were matched to the rough hewn cedar pattern of the original poured-concrete walls.[11]

Friends of the Library[edit]

Organized in 1949, a group of citizens formed "The Friends of the Orange County Library System." The role of this group is to raise funds for library resources and educate the Orange County community on the important role the libraries play in their lives. The board of directors steer the direction of the friends group, but anyone can become a "friend" through a yearly membership. The friends also run the library gift shop, located in the lobby of the Main library and the Friends of the Library Bookstore, located on the third floor of the Main library.[12] Library volunteers are also managed by the Friends of the Library, offering volunteer positions at the bookstore/gift shop, at library events, and library shelving assistant opportunities at any of the library branch locations.[13]


Orlando Public Library

There are 14 branches[14] located throughout 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.

Alafaya Branch

The Alafaya branch has also been known as the Azalea Park branch (1965-1972), the Eastland branch (1972-1986), and the East Orange branch (1986-2000). The current branch location opened its doors on February 1, 2000.[15]

Chickasaw Branch

The newest addition to the Library System, the Chickasaw branch opened on July 18, 2015, in east Orange County.

Eatonville Branch

This branch, built opened in January 2005, honors the Eatonville resident Zora Neale Hurston.

Fairview Shores Branch

Opening originally in 1950 as the College Park branch, it was later moved in 1966 and was renamed the Edgewater branch. The newest Fairview Shores branch opened in June 2019 and its children’s area features a mural created by Disney artist David Buckley.[16]

Hiawassee Branch

Beginning as a bookmobile station in 1962, the Pine Hills branch expanded and relocated until 1990 when it relocated to the West Colonial Oaks Shopping Center and the name changed to the West Colonial Library. The West Colonial Library was renamed the Hiawassee branch and opened its current location in 2010.[17]

Horizon West Branch

The proposed branch will be located between Horizon West’s Town Center and the village of Bridgewater. The branch is expected to open in early 2025.[18]

North Orange Branch

Another branch that started off as a bookmobile station, the first branch opened in 1964, moved to larger spaces in 1966 and 1969, and finally in 1989 to its current location in Apopka.[19]

South Creek Branch

Originally opened as the South Orange branch in 1992, the South Creek branch moved in 2002 to a location in the Deerfield area.[20]

South Trail Branch

Beginning as the Fort Gatlin branch in 1965, it moved and became the South Trail branch in 1981, then moved once more in 1996 to its current location on South Orange Blossom Trail.

Southeast Branch

The first branch location opened in January 1986 before moving in 1994 to its current location just a couple miles from the Orlando International Airport on Semoran Blvd in Orlando. Originally known as the “Southeast Library Outlet,” the branch was a test site for new services, such as drive-up service windows and multiple meeting rooms.[21]

Southwest Branch

Located in the Dr. Phillip’s area near International Drive, the Southwest branch opened its doors on March 21, 1989.

Washington Park Branch

Dating back to 1924, it combines the former Booker T. Washington and Washington Shores Libraries. Washington Park opened its doors on April 11, 1984. The Booker T. Washington Library opened on June 11, 1924 as the first African American library in Orlando and was managed by Orlando’s first African American librarian, Eddie T. Jackson. The Washington Shores branch, beginning as a library station in 1963, moved to the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in 1965 and to the Southwest Boys Club in 1981.[22]

West Oaks Branch and Genealogy Center

Located in the city of Ocoee, the West Oaks branch opened in August of 2001, then added the Genealogy Center in January 2015.

Windermere Branch

Windermere’s first library opened in 1959 to replace a book exchange located in John Luff’s Country Store. The current branch, which was added to the Orange County Library System in August 1991, is housed in a homestyle building with a wrap-around porch located in the Town Square.[23]

Winter Garden Branch

In the western part of Orange County, Winter Garden’s first branch opened in November 1964 to replace a bookmobile station. Shortly after, the City of Winter Garden purchased two lots as the site of a future branch, which was dedicated on April 20, 1969. The current branch was built in 2005 and is the only branch built on donated land. The branch’s official name, S.C. Battaglia Memorial Branch, honors the former citrus grove owner’s commitment to the community.[24]

Materials Access to Your Library[edit]

The Materials Access to Your Library (MAYL)[25] 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 audio-books, 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.

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.[26]


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.[27] 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 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 an 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 where a projection of Dorothy Lumley stands to greet incoming patrons. 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.[28] Some of the simulations offered by the Melrose Center include driving simulators, forklift simulators, and flying simulators[29] The center opened to the public on February 8, 2014.

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.[30] 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.[31]

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.[31]

Grants, Awards, and Recognition[edit]

In 2017, the library received a Dollar General Literacy Foundation Award for $10,000 to expand its ESL classes. 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 allowed the library to bring in authors for readings, book discussions and writing workshops geared towards children, teens and young adults. Some of the authors featured in the series included Sharon Draper, Sarah Weeks and Jason Reynolds.[32] In August 2018, the library was a recipient of the Disney Grant for $50,000.[33] In 2018, OCLS also received a National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In May 2019, the library received the Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award from The Florida Library Association. In 2021, the library received four awards from the Florida Library Association, including Library of the Year, "Librarians Change People's Lives," Youth Services Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award for director Mary Anne Hodel.[34]

Elimination of overdue fines[edit]

In October of 2023, two Orange County Library System staff members presented the board of trustees with a recommendation to eliminate fines on overdue materials. This recommendation was based on two factors: 1) The Orange County Library System has seen a steady decline in overdue fines over the past several years 2) overdue fines can create a barrier to those trying to use library resources.

Ultimately, the board decided that the revenue generated by overdue fines was insufficient when compared to the amount of time and effort required by staff to pursue fines. Library director, Steve Powell, noted that other library systems throughout the country who have abolished fines have seen an increase in returned overdue items, and an increase in library usage. The motion carried 4-0.[35]

Effective Sunday, October 16, the Orange County Library System stopped collecting fines on overdue materials. Additionally, all pre-existing overdue fines were cleared from library users’ accounts. All materials still have due dates, and library users will continue to receive notifications as that due date approaches. If an item is not returned within 14 days of its due date, the library user’s account will be blocked, and they will be unable to use their account until the overdue item is returned or paid for. Also, library users will continue to be charged for items returned damaged.

This decision was in line with a nationwide trend to eliminate public library overdue fines, as they present a barrier of access to users. Additionally, this decision was made in preparation of the Orange County Library System’s 100-year anniversary in 2023.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facts About the Library". Orange County Library System. 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  2. ^ "Facts About the Library". 5 May 2016.
  3. ^ Bohannon, Crockett (Aug 26, 2022). "Steve Powell Selected as Orange County Library System's New Library Director/CEO". Retrieved Oct 26, 2022.
  4. ^ "Facts About the Library". Orange County Library System. 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  5. ^ Florida Library History Project
  6. ^ "Albertson Public Library". Orlando Memory. 2013-10-31. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  7. ^ "Library History". Orange County Library System. 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  8. ^ "Eddie T. Jackson - Painting | Orlando Memory". 16 May 2010. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  9. ^ "Booker T. Washington Branch Library - Open House Brochure | Orlando Memory". Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  10. ^ "Library History". Orange County Library System. 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  11. ^ "Library History". 18 September 2015.
  12. ^ "About". Friends of the Orange County Library System. Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  13. ^ "Volunteer". Friends of the Orange County Library System. Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  14. ^ "OCLS Locations". 8 September 2015.
  15. ^ P, K. (2022, August 15). OCLS Branches - Then and Now. Orlando Memory.
  16. ^ Orlando Memory
  17. ^ Orlando Memory
  18. ^ Horizon West Orange County Library. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2023, from
  19. ^ Orlando Memory
  20. ^ Orlando Memory
  21. ^ Orlando Memory
  22. ^ Orlando Memory
  23. ^ Orlando Memory
  24. ^ Orlando Memory
  25. ^ "MAYL". 14 September 2015.
  26. ^ "Suggest-A-Title".
  27. ^ Accessing Orange County Library Wireless
  28. ^ "Melrose Center".
  29. ^ "Classes & Programs". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  30. ^ 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
  31. ^ a b Santich, K. (2012, April 16). $1 Million Donation Will Transform Orlando Library Into Digital Playground. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from Orlando Sentinel:
  32. ^ "Awards and Recognitions - Press Room | Orange County Library System | Orlando, Florida". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  33. ^ "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.
  34. ^ "2021 FLA Award Winners". Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  35. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  36. ^ [bare URL]

External links[edit]