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History of the Orange County Library System

Sorosis Club of Orlando

The beginnings of the current Orange County Library System can be traced to the circulating library collection of the Sorosis Club of Orlando. The collection was initially housed on the second floor of the old Armory building on Court Street and was subsequently moved to the Knox building at the corner of Pine and Court streets. On May 11, 1920, Orlando citizens showed by a vote of 417 to 19 that they wanted a library and were willing to pay for it.

The Albertson Public Library

Captain Charles L. Albertson, a retired New York City police inspector and winter resident of Orlando was an avid book collector. For many years he maintained a library in his home in Waverly, New York, and loaned books to residents. On November 10, 1921, Captain Albertson, the library committee of the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor and commissioners met to discuss Captain Albertson’s proposal to donate his book collection to the city.  The proposal made the front page of the Evening Reporter Star the following day. Mayor Duckworth and the city commissioners unanimously accepted Captain Albertson’s proposition and his collection of books on November 12, 1921.

The official agreement was signed on November 26, 1921, and stated that Captain Albertson would give his extensive collection to the city of Orlando with these stipulations: the city would provide a suitable library building, it would be called the Albertson Public Library, and Captain Albertson would serve as the Advisory Superintendent of the Library.

On February 21, 1922, the City held a bond election for certain municipal improvements, including a public library building. The total cost of the building, grounds and equipment was $110,000. On November, 8, 1923, the doors of the Library were opened to the public.

Painting of Central at Rosalind

ABOVE: 1945 painting by James Stoll. The above painting by James Stoll shows the area surrounding the Albertson Public Library in 1945. West of the library are the Salvation Army Citadel, Orlando Chamber of Commerce Building. Further west on the other side of Main Street (now Magnolia) is the old red brick Court House with the new court house to the right. On Wall Street is the Orlando Utilities building, the Young Women’s Community Club and the First Church of Christ Scientist. Just north of the church on Rosalind you can see Memorial Junior High School.

Bookmobile

In early 1949, the Orange County Chamber of Commerce presented a proposal for a bookmobile to the board of the Albertson Public Library. The ladies of the Orlando Sorosis Club agreed that a bookmobile would allow the library to bring books to the small communities of Orange County, so they spearheaded a drive to raise funds for the purchase of the vehicle. By November 1949, the bookmobile was on the road!

Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Library was also established in 1949. A notice published in the February 27, 1949, Sentinel Star announced that the Winter Park – Orlando Zonta Club was meeting to sponsor a new organization to be called “Friends of the Library”.

Orlando Jaycees Report

Library Committee of the Orlando Jaycees published a report in 1959 on library conditions, stating the the Albertson Public Library was no longer able to meet the needs of its staff or the community. The preparation for a new Main library began three years later in 1962 when Orlando voters approved funds for construction and the city acquired additional land adjacent to the original site at Rosalind and Central. In 1964, the library moved to temporary headquarters at 905 North Orange Avenue, the Albertson building was demolished, and construction began. On July 23, 1966, the temporary location closed and the staff and collections were moved to the new building.

Entrance ramp at the corner of Central and Rosalind to the 1966 Orlando Public Library.
The entrance to the 1966 Orlando Public Library was on Rosalind Avenue at Central Boulevard. The ramp to the entrance can be seen behind the cars.

Orlando Public Library

The Orlando Public Library building was dedicated on a rainy Sunday afternoon on August 7, 1966. The architect, John M. Johansen of New Canaan, Connecticut, called his design a “composition in monolithic concrete.” The 50th Anniversary Souvenir booklet provides more details.

In 1974, just eight years after the opening of the new library, it became evident that much more space was needed. In 1978, the library secured a commitment from the Orlando City Council to purchase the rest of the block to the west of the existing site, and in 1980 the voters approved the sale of $22 million in bonds for construction of the new building.

Artists Rendition of the 1986 Orlando Public Library
Architect’s rendering of the present day Orlando Public Library after the 1985 expansion, showing the 1966 building on the right at the corner of Central and Rosalind with Lake Eola in the distance.

The 1966 building closed in March 1985 and the new expansion opened to the public on April 8, 1985. Renovation of the 1966 building began immediately, thereafter.

Library Expansion

A grand opening celebration for the expansion and renovation took place on Sunday, April 6, 1986.

The 290,000 square foot Orlando Public Library encompasses an entire city block bounded by Magnolia Avenue, Central Boulevard, Rosalind Avenue and Wall Street. It took 19,000 cubic yards of concrete to construct the expansion of the Brutalist style building. A major challenge presented to architect Duane Stark and his team was to design an expansion that would blend seamlessly with the original 1966 Johansen structure. The measure of Stark’s success is apparent in the exterior of the building. The color and texture of the new exterior walls match the rough hewn cedar pattern of the original poured-concrete walls belying the fact that they were completed 19 years apart.

Historical Documents

Orlando Public Library – Marking 50 Years of Library Service
Library History booklet created in 1973 for the 50th Anniversary of the Orlando Public Library.

Johansen’s Orlando Library
Article about the Orlando Public Library – Architectural Record, June 1967.

Architecture for Florida Living
Photographic review in the 1968 premiere edition.

Library Expansion Open House – May 29, 1985
Flyer handed out at the grand opening of the newly expanded Library building on May 29, 1985.

Orlando Public Library Expansion Celebration 1986
The Orlando Public Library expansion Celebration took place on Sunday, April 6, 1986.

Orlando Public Library 1986 Expansion Booklet

Orlando Public Library – Orlando Sentinel – Florida Magazine 6 April 1986
The Florida Magazine section of the Orlando Sentinel published on 6 April 1986 heralded the opening of the new edition to the library.

Persons and departments mentioned in photos below: Margaret  Wells, Genealogy Department, Friends Bookstore, Young Adult Department, Remodeling of the 2nd floor, Business and Social Science Department, Questline, Craig Wilkins, Mary Ann Hodel, Library Director Dorothy Field, Rich Gause, Carl Brown, Kathryn Robinson, Susan Zwer, Angela Jacobe, Eleanor Crawford, Angela Green, Debbie Moss, Circulation,  Dorothy Field, Elvis, Carolyn Rosenblum, Bob Tessier, Eleanor Gentry, John Martin, Judy Mucci, Paul Neal Heather Bodiford, Arts and Literature department, Debra Tour, Debbie Tour, Rita Lloyd, TicTac Toe, Carl Brown, Carl “Captain Crunch” Brown, Katherine Cooper, DRI Office, Special Services, Director Glenn Miller, Eleanor Crawford, Audio Visual Department, Monika Cooper, Joe Justice, Dawn Villano, Cam Rickleman, Mark Minzak, Steve Gataletto, Mary Jane Humm, Sally Hardy, Ruth Quinn, Carla Fountain, Books by Mail, Maxie Pittman, Nedra Blanke, Underwood Martin, Toni Ripley, Wizard of IS, Tonia Hinkle, Alzo Reddick, Sally Fry, Ann Gistarb, Bell, Beauty and the Beast, Central Florida Zoo, Kris Woodson, Kelly Pepo, Lynette Schimpf, Sheri Chambers, Remodeled Library Central, Halloween, Elinor Williams, Nicole Cavallaro, Tammy Erikstrup, Staff Association, Staff Association Cook Book, Ramsey, FISH Spirit, Talking Books, Eatonville Branch, Coloring Contest, Technical Services Remodel, Staff Day 2008, Mike Worrell, Charlie Hoeck, Albertson Public Library, August Calabrese, Winter Garden Branch, postcard, Mercedes Stephens, Brian Calhoun, Gregg Gronlund, Anne Rosebrock, Pat Lane, Pam Sogge, Nicole Heinzleman, Vera Gubnitskaia, Eric Heinzleman. 1966 Library, 1985 Library, Cam Rickleman, Chuck Davis, Sue Wright, Crystal Sullivan, Patsy Aman, Cathy Jensen, Danielle Camelle, Rosemary Breitup, Dana Oscarson, Brian Calhoun, Lisa Gryzinski, Lisa Stewart, Bobi Gonzalez.

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Orlando Public Library

The sign at the front of the Orlando Public Library in Orlando, Florida.

Orlando Public Library - 1966 Building

Orlando Public Library, 1966 exterior photo showing the entrance ramp on Rosalind Street.

Orlando Public Library Exterior Postcard

Photo postcard showing the exterior of the Main Library, viewed from the corner of Central Blvd. and Rosalind Avenue.

Friends Bookstore Postcard

Postcard promoting the Friends of the Library Bookstore. Photo of the Main Library and a photo of customers in the bookstore.

FOL Newsletter March 1986 Grand Opening

Friends of the Library March 1986 newsletter. "Coming up - The Grand Opening Celebration, Sunday April 6. The Grand Celebration of the completion of...

Genealogy Department Opening

Opening of the Genealogy collection on the 4th floor of the Main library. The Genealogy collection was relocated to the West Oaks...

Reading Area in Orlando Public Library

Reading area in the 1966 Orlando Public Library

Young Adult Department

Looking down into the Young Adult Department from the second floor of the 1966 Orlando Public Library building.

2nd Floor Ribbon Cutting

Grand opening of the renovated 2nd Floor with Library Director/CEO Mary Anne Hodel, Library Board members and mascot Squirt circa 2005.

Library Social Science Department

Social Sciences Department on the 2nd floor of the Orlando Public library, around 1985.

Orlando Public Library Postcard

Postcard with four photos showing exterior of library from Central and Rosalind; drive up window; lobby; and books by mail processing area.

Questline in the 90's

Craig Wilkins, from Questline, circa 1990's.

New Library Reception

1st Floor, Lobby: Director Dorothy Field, Rich Gause, Carl Brown, Kathryn Robinson, Susan Zwer, Angela Jacobe, Eleanor Crawford, Angela Green

Debbie Moss

Debbie Moss in Circulation.

The King and I - Dorothy Field with Elvis

Director Dorothy Field with Elvis Entertainer at her retirement party in 2001.

Dorothy Field's Retirement

Director Dorothy Field's retirement party in 2001. L-R: Kathryn Robinson, Carolyn Rosenblum, Debbie Moss, Bob Tessier.

Eleanor Gentry, Kathryn Robinson, John Martin

Eleanor Gentry, Kathryn Robinson, and John Martin at the Orlando Public Library 1992.

Arts and Literature 1st Floor

Judy Mucci, Paul Neal, Heather Bodiford, Arts and Literature 1st Floor, Orlando Public Library

Debra Tour Questline 1994

Debra Tour, Questline in 1994.

Questline TicTacToe Monitor 1995

Early days of Questline in 1995, TicTacToe Monitor system.

Rita Lloyd in Special Services

Rita Lloyd, Special Services

OCLS Dinner 1975

Judy Mucci, Carl Brown, 1975.

DRI Office 1994

Katherine Cooper, Kathryn Robinson, DRI Office 1994.

Questline Tutorial

Carl "Captain Crunch" Brown, online network approach to phone reference service.

Special Services

Pink bags in Special Services

Director Glenn Miller

Director Glenn Miller

Genealogy

Eleanor Crawford, Genealogy in 1991.

Audio Visual Department

Steve Gataletto, Margaret Wells, Audio Visual Department

Questline

Monika Cooper, Questline

Luncheon

Joe Justice, Kathryn Robinson, Dawn Villano, Cam Rickleman, Mark Minzak, Steve Gataletto, Mary Jane Humm, Sally Hardy, Ruth Quinn, Carla Fountain

Books By Mail

Maxie Pittman

Questline

Nedra Blanke, Craig Wilkins

Mucci, Judy

Judy Mucci, Assistant Director

K-Rob, J-Mart

John Martin, Kathryn Robinson

Asst. Dir. Judy Mucci

Judy Mucci, Assistant Director

Underwood

Underwood Martin

John and Carla

John Martin, Carla Fountain in 2001

K-Rob, Toni Ripley

Kathryn Robinson, Toni Ripley

Wizard of IS

Employees act out The Wizard of IS at Director Dorothy Field's retirement. L-R: Tonia Hinkle, Bob Tessier, Kathryn Robinson, John Martin.

Judy Mucci Award

State Representative Alzo Reddick, parents of Judy Mucci, and water color painting by Glenn Miller, Director.

OCLS Staff 1991

Sally Fry, Ann Gistarb, Judy Mucci, John Martin in 1991

Belle Visits OCLS

Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast reads to a young patron.

Belle at OCLS

Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast reads aloud to a group of young patrons.

Cent. FL Zoo

Visitors from the Central Florida Zoo give the kids a geography lesson.

Turtle Time

Kids play with a turtle from the Central Florida Zoo.

Storytime with Margaret Wells

Children's librarian Margaret Wells captivating her audience with a story.

Library Central Unveiling

Kris Woodson, Kelly Pepo, Lynette Schimpf, Sheri Chambers at the grand opening celebration for the newly remodeled Library Central in November 2003...

Halloween at the Library - 2002

On Halloween 2002, several staff members at the North Orange Branch in Apopka used L. Frank Baum's fourteen stories about OZ as...

Halloween 2004

Halloween 2004 saw long lines of citizens encircling the 3rd Floor at Main waiting to vote. Costumed staff members helped lighten the...

Halloween 2004

Another costumed staff member at the Orlando Public Library joined in on the fun showing off her medieval "lady" costume in Library...

Elinor Williams

Beloved librarian Elinor Williams passed away 19 November 2005. She was an active member of Mt. Zion MIssionary Baptist Institutional Church and known...

OCLS Jeans Day! 2008

Nicole Cavallaro and Tammy Erikstrup on St. Patrick's Jeans Day.

Staff Association Board - 1998

The attached was a page scanned from Library Delights, a cookbook project done by the OCLS Staff Association Board of Directors 1997-98.

Cover of Staff Association Cookbook - 1998

Cover of the Staff Association Cookbook, Library Delights - 1998

Ramsey on Stage at Orlando Public Library

This is the duo "Ramsey" performing at the Downtown Orlando Public Library on November 14, 2008.

Library Central showing FISH spirit

2008 Library Cental Staff is as crazy as ever. We're really a team who knows how to show FISH spirit. We have...

Talking Books

Talking Book Collection from the Orlando Public Library.

Eatonville Branch Library

Eatonville Children's Branch Library, Eatonville Florida. OCLS

For Dummies Display: Library Central 2008

The idea was a 'For Dummies' dispenser instead of a Pez Dispenser.

Library Coloring Contest

"Put some color in your summer!" Orlando Public Library Coloring Contest

Technical Services Renovation

Renovation of Technical Services at the Downtown Orlando Public Library.

Staff Day 2008: Division of Branches Torch

Craig is the proud torchbearer in the Division of Branches office!

library staff

Two Orange County Library Staff members at the Orlando Library, Young Adult Department, 2nd Floor. Orlando natives - L-R Mike Worrell...

Albertson Public Library - Orlando Public Library

This is an original painting by James Stoll and is part of the Orlando Remembered display case located on the 4th floor...

New Manager Arrives at Winter Garden Library

August Calabrese, the newly assigned manager arrived at the Winter Garden Branch of the Orange County Library System on Monday June 22,...

Postcard (front) - Orlando Public Library Circa 1985

Postcard showing the architect's rendering of the Orlando Public Library after the expansion in 1985. Visible is Magnolia Avenue when it was...

Postcard (back) - Orlando Public Library circa 1985

Postcard showing the architects rendering of the Orlando Public Library after the expansion in 1985. Visible is Magnolia Avenue when it was...

Postcard (front) - Orlando Public Library circa 1970

Postcard of the 1966 Orlando Public Library that replaced the Albertson's Public Library circa 1970. The Albertson's Public Library faced Central Blvd....

Postcard (back) - Orlando Public Library circua 1970

The back of a postcard of the "New" Orlando Public Library that replaced the Albertson's Public Library circa 1970. The Albertson's public...

2nd Floor - Orlando Public Library

Brian Calhoun, Mercedes Stephens, Eleanor Gentry

Orlando Public Library - Law Collection

The Orlando Public Library housed the Orange County Bar Association law collection until 4 January 2006. This photo is of the former...

Orlando Public Library - Arts and Literature Staff

This is a photo of staff members from the old Arts and Literature Department at the library. From Left to Right front...

Orlando Public Library - Kathryn Robinson

This is a photo Kathryn Robinson in August 2002 as the library prepared to move materials from the first floor to 2nd...

Orlando Public Library - Kathryn Robinson

Kathryn Robinson 1992.

Orlando Public Library - Remodeling 1st Floor - Moving Day

Movers removing shelving to relocate it to the 2nd floor to facilitate remodeling of the are now called "Library Central" and "Club...

Orlando Public Library - Remodeling 1st Floor - Moving Day

Boxes and special dolleys used to move the boxes filled with books from the first floor to the 2nd floor to facilitate...

Orlando Public Library - Remodeling 1st Floor - Moving Day

Special dolleys used to move the large boxes of books from the first floor to the 2nd floor to facilitate remodeling of...

Orlando Public Library - Remodeling 1st Floor - Moving Day

Books from the first floor collection packed in moving boxes ready to be moved to the 2nd floor to facilitate remodeling of...

Orlando Public Library - Remodeling 1st Floor - Moving Day

Staff member Angela Jacobe pitching in to help as the first floor collection was relocated to the 2nd floor to facilitate remodeling...

Orlando Public Library - Remodeling 1st Floor - Moving Day

Professional movers packing materials to move to temporary location to prepare for the remodeling of the first floor at the Orlando Public...

Orlando Public Library Painting 1

Orlando Public Library Painting

Orange County Library staff photo 1967

Moving into new library - relaxing in staff room. July 1967

Orlando Public Library 1966-1986

This is the ramp from Central along Rosalind Avenue to the front doors of the new 1966 Orlando Public Library. The entrance...

Orlando Public Library 1966-1986

This is the ramp from Central along Rosalind Avenue to the front doors of the new 1966 Orlando Public Library. The entrance...

Orlando Public Library Floor Plan

Floor plan from old 1966 Orlando Public Library - 3 floors.

Orlando Public Library Brochure

1968 brochure showing subject guide and circulation of materials information for the Orlando Public Library

Library Board of Directors from 1923 to 1973

From the 50th Anniversary of the Orlando Public Library Booklet. List of Board members from 1923 to present (1973): Sexton Johnson, Mrs. F....

Orlando Public Library 1968 Exterior

Exterior view of the entrance to the Orlando Public Library on Rosalind Street looking south from Wall Street. The ramp in the...

Orlando Public Library 1968 Exterior and Interior Views

Exterior view shows the view of the library from Central Blvd. and the ramp to the entrance on Rosalind Street at Central...

Orlando Public Library 1968 Exterior Rosalind at Wall Street

This exterior view shows on the far left, the ramp leading to the entrance of the library on Rosalind Street and the...

Orlando Public Library 1968 Interior and Exterior Views

This photograph shows the entire expanse of the front of the library on Rosalind from Central to Wall. The interior photograph is...

Orlando Public Library 1968 Exterior and Interiors

Two of the images are taken from the 2nd floor overlooking what is now the Children's Department. The other is the front...

Albertson Public Library circa 1945

This painting by James Stoll shows the area surrounding the Albertson Public Library in 1945. West of the library are the Salvation...

Albertson Public Library Postcard

Albertson Public Library at the corner of Central Blvd. and Rosalind Avenue circa 1930.

Orlando Public Library Postcard - 1970s

Postcard of the 1966 Orlando Public Library taken from the southeast corner of Central Blvd. and Rosalind Avenue.

Orlando Public Library Artist's Rendering

Orlando Public Library 1984 Expansion.

Library Staff Members - 1970s #1

Back row (unsure of correct order for last two listed): Cam Rickleman, Chuck Davis, Gregg Gronlund, Patsy Aman, Danielle Camelle (sp?); Front...

Library Staff Members - 1970s #2

Rosemary Breitup, Dana Oscarson, Brian Calhoun, Lisa Gryzinski (?), Debbie Tour, Lisa Stewart, Bobbi Gonzalez.

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Captain Albertson Donates Books

Article published November 11, 1921, Front Page, Evening Reporter Star


Captain Albertson Donates Books

November 11, 1921, Front Page, Evening Reporter Star


City of Orlando accepts Capt. Albertson's Offer

On November 12, 1921, the City Commissioners met and unanimously accepted Captain Albertson's offer to donate his collection to the people of Orlando.


Agreement between Captain Albertson and the City of Orlando

On November 26, 1921, Captain Albertson and the Mayor of Orlando signed the agreement by which Captain Albertson would donate his library to the people of Orlando.


Johansen's Orlando Library

Article reprinted from Architectural Record, June 1967, entitled "Johansen's Orlando library: compatible colony of varied forms." The article includes elevations, floorplans, and interior views of the library that replaced the original Albertson's Public Library.

You will note from the exterior photos, that the entrance to the library was changed from Central Boulevard to Rosalind Avenue via a ramp into what is now the Children's Department. The elevation drawing on the third page shows Children's Library in the basement and the staff area sharing the roof with the mechanical room on top of the 2nd floor.

The rooftop patio on the last page was adjacent to what was the staff area on the third floor.

You can still get a glimpse of the old stairwells with the brass handlebars from the children's department.


Orlando Public Library New Building Dedication - 1966

Orlando Public Library New Building Dedication - 1966

Program from the 1966 Dedication Ceremony of the New Orlando Public Library Building


Architecture for Florida Living - Orlando Public Library
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