ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – National Library Card Sign-up Month takes place in September and began in 1987 promoting library resources at the start of the school year.
Now it’s 2022 and a library card goes well beyond benefitting students with access to books— it can be a valuable resource for just about anyone at any age.
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Over the past year, I’ve been able to take a deep dive into some of the offerings at the Orange County Library System. Of course, they have books you can check out at each of their 15 branches across Orange County. But did you know, you don’t even have to go to the library to get the books?
OCLS has a home delivery option where you can check out items from the libraries online and have them delivered straight to your doorstep. If you don’t like flipping through the pages of a book, you can also rent e-books, audio books, movies and music online. You’ll just need your library card number.
Beyond the books, there are a number of other unique resources that OCLS offers for free with a library card.
1. Music Studio
A full size recording studio is at the Orange County Library System’s downtown Orlando branch, part of the Melrose Center on the second floor. The studio comes with audio production equipment, microphones and music-producing software. The studio can hold up to 12 people and can be rented out in four-hour sessions for free. (You may have to take an OCLS Melrose Center introductory course to show you can use the equipment before you can rent the space. There are staff on hand to help teach and assist with equipment.)
2. Flight Simulator
A flight simulator is located in the Melrose Center at the downtown Orlando branch. You can reserve two-hour sessions for free. Some people use the simulator to complement flight school.
3. 3D Printers
You’ll find 3D printers, engravers, cutting and routing machines in the Fab Lab located at the Melrose Center at the downtown Orlando branch. These machines are free and can be used during Makerspace Open Labs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
4. Language Learning Classes
The Orange County Library System offers English and Spanish courses for all skill levels, free of charge. The courses are offered in-person at the Southeast Branch’s Language Learning Lab and virtually. You can now learn English or Spanish from just about anywhere.
5. Cooking Classes
Want to learn how to cook? You can attend OCLS’s Cuisine Corner to learn from local chefs and the kids can even get hands-on with Little Chef cooking classes. There are in-person and virtual classes offered.
Need homework help? OCLS offers a variety of learning resources for any grade level and even offers free virtual tutors through Brainfuse. (The virtual tutors are even available during the late night hours with no appointment needed.)
7. Genealogy Center
The Orange County Library System has a genealogy center housed in the West Oaks Branch on 1821 East Silver Star Road in Ocoee where library members can dig into their heritage with expert help. The Genealogy Center has been there since 2015 and was originally housed at the main branch in downtown Orlando. OCLS library members can learn about their heritage with the help of their full-time genealogist Allison Ryall.
8. Social Worker
The Orange County Library System has a full-time social worker on staff, providing services to members. A licensed clinical social worker provides members assistance with things like affordable housing, counseling and mental health resources, healthcare, immigration and reemployment guidance. You’ll just need a library card to book the appointment. Click here to book an appointment.
9. Home Delivery
10. Video/Photography Studios
Full-size video and photography studios are located at the Orange County Library System’s downtown Orlando branch, part of the Melrose Center on the second floor. The studios come with green screens, backgrounds, light kits and cameras. (You may have to take an OCLS Melrose Center introductory course to show you can use the equipment before you can rent the space. There are staff on hand to help teach and assist with equipment.)
There are many more resources the Orange County Library System offers. All of these services are free. You’ll just need a library card. You can sign up for an OCLS library card online by clicking here.
No matter where you live in Central Florida, now is a great time to head to your local library and sign up for a library card. Most public libraries are FREE.