Alafaya Branch Library
The Alafaya branch library serves customers in the UCF, Avalon Park, Bithlo, Christmas, and Lake Nona areas. Alafaya Branch originally opened as the Azalea Park Library in 1965 as one of the first branches of the Orange County Library System. It has changed names and locations over the years but has continuously served the East Orange County area ever since.
The Alafaya Branch is a busy one! With a total of 18 employees, they serve around 800 customers a day and average over 400 new library card registrations every month. They are also one of the few branches with a drive-up window and it serves over 100 customers per day. Alafaya serves a community of families so their juvenile attendance is more than 20,000 per year.
Alafaya has lovely permanent-displays, heron-themed art works, and are always looking for new local art to display. The well-equipped children’s play area gets used every hour of every day as part of their Early Learning focus. All in all, the Alafaya branch is a convenient place for the entire family.
From Azalea Park to Alafaya – A 35-year journey!
In 1965, the Azalea Park branch opened because it was one of the busiest Bookmobile stops. The library was very small – only 750 square feet – and housed about 8,000 items. It was open only twenty hours per week staffed by one librarian, a part time clerk and a shelver.
In July 1972, the Azalea Branch was relocated to the Eastland Shopping Center (now the Home Depot Center) and renamed the Eastland Library with Howard Hornburg serving as the branch manager.
Commenting on the Eastland Library, retired OCLS librarian Warren French wrote:
I have fond memories of taking our daughter to the branch library at the Eastland Shopping Center on East Colonial Drive near Semoran Boulevard. Betty Brady (1936-2019) was the Children’s Librarian and provided wonderful story times in what was basically a long closet, where a 16 MM film projector was set up at the far end and a screen at the entrance end, behind Ms. Brady. She read and told stories, and then showed a short film for the children. This was back in the days before VHS!
Howard Hornberg (1941-2020) was the branch manager/librarian. He was such a gentle man; very approachable and extremely helpful. He was an inspiration to me.
East Orange Library
In 1986, the Eastland Branch was replaced with the new East Orange Library at 8318 East Colonial Drive in the Tower Square Shopping Center. The building was 9,000 square feet with a collection of over 90,000 items and was open 58 hours weekly. Toni Ripley was the manager in 1993, with a staff of twelve. The family-oriented branch served young adults and children plus a mix of college students and retirees.
The above photograph is of Betsy Nieves when she was a shelving clerk at the East Orange Library. Betsy went on to become the Customer Service Lead at the Herndon Branch from the day it opened in November 1998 until the branch closed and her retirement in 2020.
An article published in the local newspaper in August 1996, announced future construction of a new East Orange library with 12,000 square feet of space and a drive-up window.
Alafaya Branch Library
An invitation to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new “East Orange” library was featured on the front page of the February 1999 Books and Beyond newsletter. The new library (later to be named the Alafaya Branch) would be the first prototype branch constructed through a partnership with OCLS and Orange County Government. The library is operated by the Orange County Library District on land leased from Orange County Government with additional funding provided through a grant from the state of Florida.
View February 1999 Books and Beyond.
Joining Library Director Dorothy Field for the ceremony were Orange County Chairman Mel Martinez, Library Board President Ronald Harbert and Friends of the Library President Edward Hofma.
ABOVE: Groundbreaking Celebration for the new Alafaya Branch.
Grand Opening Celebration
Library Director Dorothy Field officiated at the Grand Opening celebration of the Alafaya Library at 12000 East Colonial Drive on February 1, 2000.
View February 2000 Books and Beyond
Above: Library Director Dorothy Field and Orange Chairman Mel Martinez cut the ribbon to officially open the Alafaya Branch!
View the Grand Opening program.
20th Anniversary Celebration
Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Alafaya Branch on Saturday, February 1, 2020, with a day full of fun activities, crafts and events for the entire family! Events include Animal Storytime presented by the Central Florida Fair, Jiggle Man, Mr. Harley’s Kids Concert and more!
— Lynette Schimpf, Branch Manager
February 2020 Books and Beyond.
The Alafaya Branch Manager Lynette Schimpf and her staff celebrated 20 years of service to the people of East Orange County on February 1, 2020, with fun activities, crafts and events for the entire family!
The remodel or face lift for Alafaya branch in 2020 included a mural in the updated children’s area by Disney artist David Buckley. Buckley also created the mural in the new Fairview Shores branch.
Programs, Classes and Events
Alafaya offers programs that focus on Early Literacy, Crafting and Science, a variety of technology and English Language classes.
Readers Theater is a program the Alafaya Branch staff have presented in the past. The program featured staff acting out children’s books, showing children that they could do the same thing in their own home. After staff acted out stories, children were encouraged to make their own costumes. The picture below shows staff at Alafaya presenting a story from Elephant & Piggie.
L-R, Staff members Lauren Mathur and Carey Major
Click on each photo below from Alafaya over the years:
Peruse the historical documents below under Attachments.
East Orange Sun - February 1999
The new library prototype completed and approved in 1997 was use for the Alafaya Branch.
Photos from the Grand Opening of the Alafaya Branch on February 1, 2000.
Flyer from the Groundbreaking event
Alafaya Grand Opening Program