Our Local Wanderer program launched with a simple premise: Arts and culture are vital to the health and well-being of a thriving community, and everyone should have access to them.
We wanted to ensure that not only were our library cardholders aware of the wealth of enriching experiences available to them here in Central Florida, but that people have access to those experiences even if they don’t have the disposable income to spend on admission and tickets. So, we partnered with some local arts and cultural organizations to make a limited number of passes available to people to check out for free using a library card.
The program has been hugely popular since its launch in 2019, but we did have one big problem: We have never had enough passes to meet the demand for them. Asking our local arts organizations to donate an unlimited number of free admissions was not financially sustainable for them, and having the library pay for additional passes with our regular operating budget would mean cutting something else to offset the cost. So, we began to apply for grant funding to expand the program.
We were thrilled to learn last month that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded our grant request for nearly $50,000 to supplement the Local Wanderer program. The funds will be used to purchases admissions from partners who have already been a part of the program since its inception, such as Orlando Museum of Art and the Central Florida Zoo, and to expand the program by purchasing passes to new experiences, such as Audubon Center Birds of Prey and Orlando Science Center, that have not had the funding to participate. We’re excited to use this grant to support our arts economy, particularly after it has taken such a hit during the pandemic, and to give library cardholders so many new ways to do some cultural wandering.
We’ll also be using some of the funding from IMLS to expand our promotion of the program in the community to ensure that people are aware of this additional perk of having a library card. It is, as we like to say here, the most valuable card in your wallet – Local Wanderer just makes it even more so.