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National Library Week: OCLS Book Bike

National Library Week

My name is Kaylie Pasternak, and I will be taking you through this year’s National Library Week at Orange County Library System! National Library Week is a time to bring libraries to light and show support for all they do. Today, I will focus on the outreach that OCLS does, specifically through the new book bike program. I sat down with Nathaly Ruiz, a community outreach coordinator in our Community Engagement Department, to learn more!  

What is the history of the book bike? 

Orange County Library System’s first book bike was purchased in 2023 with a donation from the Sorosis of Orlando Woman’s Club. That year began our 100-year anniversary and at the kickoff event, Sorosis of Orlando Woman’s Club’s First Vice President, Susan Piner, presented a $100,000 check to bring library mobile services to our community. Not only was this an impactful endowment to the future of the library, but it was a historical nod to their previous contribution in 1949 when they donated a bookmobile to bring library services to residents on the outskirts of the county. 

Outreach Coordinator, Nathalie Ruiz, sitting on the OCLS book bike in a park.

When did the first book bike get purchased? 

We received our first book bike on May 17, 2024.  

How many book bikes are there today? 

Today we have two bikes! Our original bike is now stationed at Winter Garden Branch. Our second bike was purchased through a sponsorship from Orlando Utilities Commision and is housed at the Orlando Public Library. Unless they’re out and about, you can come by anytime to see them on display in the lobby! 

What events can the book bike be seen at? 

The book bikes can be seen at a variety of events. Currently, we make monthly visits to Lake Eola, the Oakland Farmer’s Market, and we just started bringing the bike out to Leu Gardens to coincide with our storytime visits during their Free First Mondays series. As the Community Engagement Department grows and develops, we continue to look for ways to engage the bike in community events like the City of Ocoee’s MLK Day Parade back in January, the Orlando Science Center’s Spark STEAM event in February, and this month’s Central Florida Earth Day

What is a book bike? 

For the library, a book bike is a unique opportunity to engage with customers in the community by bringing books and resources where they are. More literally, a book bike is technically a tricycle with an adjusted frame to push or drag cargo that we load with books! Most people think we sell ice cream, if that gives you a better visual.  

Cargo area of the OCLS book bike full of books

What does the outreach department at OCLS do? 

At OCLS, the Community Engagement Department brings books, resources, and library services to the community. Not everyone can make the library a regular part of their day or even their week, so we want to meet you where you are! Our branch outreach specialists bring library programs to community centers, daycares, senior living facilities, and anywhere else they’re needed. Our storytellers bring the art of storytelling to another level – you’ll find them all around the county sharing their craft with kids of all ages, and yes, they also do adult storytime! Our social workers are an amazing resource to the community. They often work out of branches, but we recently got an outreach social worker that can focus on reaching people in the community who can’t come in or that maybe don’t know that they can come to the library to get the help they need. 

What is your favorite part about being in this department? 

One thing I love about being in this department is something one of our specialists calls the “parade of compliments.” It’s great to be a part of a community that loves seeing the library. Many people are excited to find us out in the community and they often leave a compliment about our services or chat with us about their favorite things to do at the library. I also love to see a new customer’s face light up when they come across an unexpected library program or when they learn about all the resources that they have access to at no cost. They may be new to the area, or a local who has yet to engage with us, but you get the feeling that you’ve just planted the seed of a life-changing experience with the library. 

Still, my favorite part is being part of this incredible team. We are a new department but already we have such amazing staff with the passion, creativity, and commitment to sharing all that the library has to offer with our growing community. We get to set the standard for the future of outreach and mobile services at OCLS and we don’t take it for granted. It’s an exciting venture and I’m always delighted to see where it takes us. 

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Memorial Day Closing

Orange County Library System will be closed Sunday, May 26 and Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day. The library system will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, May 28. View a complete list of holiday closures >