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From the Director, February 2023

From the Director, February 2023

On January 7, we kicked off Orange County Library System’s 100 Year Celebration at Orlando Public Library with a host of special guests. We were lucky enough to have Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, State Rep. Anna Eskamani and County Commissioner Nicole Wilson join us to rededicate the library to the community for the next 100 years.

We also had with us that day a special group of women who have quietly been some of the library’s staunchest advocates, ever since our founding in 1923: The Sorosis of Orlando Woman’s Club. In the early 1920s, they helped get our library started, and in 1949, they donated our original bookmobile, which helped us reach people in farflung parts of the community. Bookmobile services were suspended in 1979, so the library could focus on building our popular home delivery service. As Orange County has developed, however, there are a growing number of people who don’t have easy access to one of the library’s 15 locations. We’ve talked about ways to introduce mobile services to bring the library to people, wherever they may be, but we weren’t sure how we were going to accomplish that goal.

Well, Sorosis of Orlando has stepped up to the plate once again. On January 7, they announced that they are donating $100,000 to Orange County Library System to help us bring book bikes, and eventually a bookmobile, to the community.

As our county grows, we need to look for new and innovative ways to deliver services, especially to areas with transportation needs and other challenges. Mobile services will go a long way toward addressing those challenges and helping us reach people in new and sometimes unexpected places. We are so grateful to Sorosis of Orlando for their very generous donation.

It’s going to take some time to figure out the best way to serve the community through a bookmobile, so we don’t have details to share about that project yet, but we are going to work on getting book bikes on the road while we sort out some bookmobile logistics. Stay tuned!

Don’t forget that all year long, we’re celebrating our 100 years of service by bringing you special events, such as this month’s exciting event featuring Top Chef contestant and author Kwame Onwuachi, and sharing library history in the pages of Books & Beyond. In honor of Black History Month, we highlight Eddie T. Jackson, Orlando’s first African American librarian, who was head librarian of the Booker T. Washington branch, which opened its doors in 1924.

Steve Powell, Library Director/CEO, Orange County Library System