On October 6, 2006, the Orange County Library District purchased the former State Farm Automobile Insurance claim center at 870 North Chickasaw Trail for $2.5 million. The architects’ drawings reveal the planned transformation of the former call center into an amazing space for the east Orlando community, making it the largest branch library in the Orange County Library System.
Plans were dashed temporarily, however, when the financial crisis in late 2008 resulted in declines in property values and therefore property taxes, negatively impacting the library’s budget. Several major projects were postponed – one of which was the renovation of the Chickasaw property.
A BANNER DAY
November 7, 2014 was a “Banner Day” in East Orlando. Commissioner Pete Clarke, Orlando City Commissioner Samuel B. Ings, Library Board of Trustee President Ted Maines, Library Trustee Hernan Tagliani, and Matt Gilbert from Skanska construction joined together to unfurl a banner to let residents know that the new Chickasaw Branch was coming soon. Almost 50 people attended the event including community partners CareerSource Central Florida, the Supervisors of Elections Office and the principal from the Renaissance Charter School across the street from the new branch.
GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION
The July 2015 Books and Beyond announced the upcoming Grand Opening of the Chickasaw Branch Library on July 18, 2015.
Library Director Mary Anne Hodel with members of the library’s Board of Trustees and other special guests participated in the Grand Opening Celebration. The daylong festivities included tours of the library, technology demonstrations, face-painting, music performances, bubbles and Storytimes for the kids, giveaways, and Spanish folk dances by Alborea Dances.
In her opening remarks, Library Director Mary Anne Hodel said: “Libraries are educational institutions designed to present experiences and learning opportunities to students of all ages and embrace the entire community.” She promised that the Chickasaw Branch would be this and more.
Ted Maines, president of the Orange County Library Board of Trustees, commented on the large crowd at the opening:
“To say I was pleasantly surprised to find 500-plus people waiting when I showed up for the opening ceremonies for the new branch would be an understatement. Within five minutes of the library’s opening, patrons were checking out materials. Nearly 4,000 items were checked out Saturday alone. It’s truly heartening to see that reading, lifelong learning and technology matter so much to the community.”
The Chickasaw Branch features contemporary design inside and out as well as eco-friendly lighting, amazing programming spaces, comfortable spots for using technology and nooks for reading.
The library has several unique features including a pebble chime, modern architectural awnings and two outdoor decks. It also boasts climate-controlled “Dynamic Glass” windows that operate much like transition lenses in eyeglasses: darkening in bright sunlight.
As patrons enter the branch, a digital billboard displays the line-up of upcoming events.
At the entrance to the Children’s Department, kids can play on colorful gel steps that swish and swirl on contact. Children can develop early learning skills at AWE stations featuring fun, educational games and activities in English and Spanish.
There are ample tables and chairs for library programs plus a patio with bright yellow sunshades that weave the outdoors into the library experience.
A living room-style reading area overlooks Chickasaw Trail and provides a comfy place to take in the latest bestseller.
The Chickasaw Branch also includes a sophisticated stage area for events such as concerts, dance performances and lectures. Wifi is available for customers along with charging bars for mobile devices.
Computer classes are offered in a fully equipped technology classroom and there’s a Fab Lab maker space that provides STEM-based educational programs for children. Language learning opportunities abound in the language lab.
Two meeting rooms and two co-working spaces can be booked for business, freelance work or study groups. Groups needing more space are in luck — the rooms can be combined to offer a larger venue.