While doing some research on what OCLS was like in the 1990s, I learned something new: The first issue of Books & Beyond was published in 1996, which makes the magazine 27 years old.
The first issue was a simple black-and-white newsletter, just four pages long, consisting of a few program listings, a story about the introduction of free Internet access at the library, a Children’s Corner section with information about storytimes and the importance of reading, and information about the Friends of the Orange County Library System, who launched the publication.
It was printed each month on paper of a different color and distributed at branches and mailed to Friends members with a special “insiders” insert that contained even more information about Friends activities and events. The newsletter continued to be published in the same format for the next six years, until 2002 when it was given a makeover. The January 2002 issue had a more professional look, with a clean layout featuring photos instead of clip art, but it wasn’t until 2007 that it became a glossy bound-and-printed publication packed full of library events and highlights.
Today, Books & Beyond is still published thanks to the Friends’ support (they help pay to print and publish the magazine every month), but it has come a long way. While we try to provide as much useful information as we can in each issue, we offer far too many events and programs to list them all. Instead, we try to offer you the highlights, with a little something from every branch. We also try to provide some interesting information about the library every month – a story elaborating on one of our programs, an interview with an author, or a feature about library history. We want Books & Beyond to not just be informational – we hope it can also be enlightening and educational, giving you yet another way to connect with the library.
We continue to be grateful to the Friends for helping to make this publication possible. It’s just one more way they help to enhance our library system. To see some examples of the evolution of Book & Beyond, visit OrlandoMemory.info, where we have scanned copies dating all the way back to that very first issue.