ORLANDO, Fla. – One-hundred years of the Orange County Library System, and it all started with a large book donation.
OCLS is celebrating its centennial with a look back at the past using some modern tech.
Digital media design instructor Juan Rivera is giving you a chance to tour Orange County’s first library.
It’s all part of a virtual reality game Rivera and his team created from the downtown Orlando branch, learning about its 100-year-old history.
“The library was made possible in part by the efforts of the Sorosis Club,” Rivera said. “It was a women’s club in Orlando that owned a small collection of books lending them to community members.”
The group would advocate for a tax-payer funded library that the city approved in 1920.
It was a Florida snow bird from New York, retired police inspector Captain Charles Albertson, who helped bring the vision to life, donating more than 21,000 books in his collection. The condition? The city of Orlando would build a library to house the books.
In 1923, the Albertson Public Library opened its doors and would expand to the now more than a dozen branches across Orange County. The downtown Orlando branch still holds many books from Albertson’s original collection.
“I thought it would be great to have a replica of the Albertson library that was in this location 100 years ago,” Rivera said.
The project took six months, Rivera conducting research and designing the virtual reality world with his team. Rivera used blueprints and photos from the original library to create a virtual replica.
As part of the game, you’ll be completing missions and looking for hidden clues throughout the Albertson Library giving you a chance to take in its original charm.
Even including details like the building’s architecture, the art room and furnishings from the 1920s.
Rivera hopes children and adults will learn something using this popular gaming tool.
“It’s becoming an integral part of learning because, not only are students able to learn about this historic event, they can experience it from their point of view. This is better than reading a book or hearing a story,” Rivera said.
A library card is free and gives you access to so many resources like classes, digital media and more.
The OCLS 100 Year Celebration kicks off Saturday, Jan. 7, but there will be special events taking place at branches throughout the county year round.
Click here to find an event at your local branch.
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