This year, the library’s home delivery service turns 50 years old. It was launched in 1973 by former Library Director Glenn Miller, who was looking for a way to make library service more accessible for people in the county. The library had a bookmobile, but it was aging and the county was growing – it just wasn’t enough to meet the demand for library materials in places where there wasn’t a physical location. He took a chance on introducing an innovative new service that made people’s lives a little bit easier.
Today, home delivery is one of our most popular (and commented upon) services. Every month, we deliver more than 30,000 packages to doorsteps around the county. Since January of this year, we’ve sent more than 166,000 packages via home delivery, and in May, we had one of our biggest months of the year so far – more than 37,000 items were delivered to homes across Orange County.
During the pandemic, home delivery was a lifesaver for so many people. We received so many comments from customers grateful that this service helped them stay connected.
“The delivery service has been a big help to my family,” one customer wrote to us. “It has made it so easy to request books and other materials … since the pandemic, my kids have read 113 books. That is a giant number and wouldn’t have been possible without Orange County Library System.”
Even after the pandemic restrictions have come to an end, we still receive comments, donations and thank-you notes from those who appreciate the service.
“I gave up my car. I’m 84 years old and live at Orlando Lutheran Towers,” someone shared with us. “Your home delivery is a blessing.”
“Your home delivery is a wonderful service,” another wrote in a note along with a donation. “Thank you to everyone that makes it happen, especially my driver who is often here before we wake up.”
While home delivery has gone a long way toward making sure that people have access to library materials, we’re at a point once again where the growth of the county is making it critical that we take a closer look at how we serve people. Public transportation can be a challenge to use in many parts of the county, making it difficult (or impossible) for some customers to get to one of our branches. As we celebrate 100 years of service in 2023, I’m grateful that we are in a place where we can plan for the future – one in which we have the support to begin construction of two new branches, the chance to increase our ability to bring programming into the community through the work of our new Community Engagement Department, and the partnerships that are making it possible to extend our reach to the people who need it most.
It’s an exciting time to be leading the library – I hope that in another 100 years, when Orange County Library System is celebrating its 200th birthday, library staff will look back at the work we’re doing now and reflect on the impact it had on how we do business.