Ever wonder if the library will become irrelevant? Think again.


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I hope you got a chance to read “Orlando’s earliest library” in last month’s history column about Orlando’s first library, which started as a mobile book service lead by the Sorosis Club in the late 19th century. That service grew into a 16-branch library system serving all of Orange County.

I had no idea National Library Week was in April, which is why our History Center contributor chose to write about ours, so it was a fun circumstance that I read “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean last month. The book is fascinating, and I highly recommend it if you like historic nonfiction.

The book centers around the great fire of 1986 that destroyed the Central Library in Los Angeles, California, and the inability of local officials to solve the crime or to even determine if a crime was committed. The tragic fire burned for over seven hours, destroying 400,000 books and damaging 700,000 more.

Rather than just dive into that one incident, the author chose to weave in and out of that story and the history of the library system in America, which began in the mid-1800s.

 

Not only did I learn about how important libraries were to the community back then, there were plenty of other facts that were quite surprising. Being a librarian was considered “man’s work,” for example, and Mary Foy caused quite a stir when she was named head of the LA Public Library in 1880 at eighteen years old. You’ll have to read the book to find out how that worked out for her.

It’s obvious why libraries were so important before Google, but I’ve often wondered how they remain relevant these days. Do people even still go to the library?

I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t visited one since taking my kids on a field trip about 20 years ago. I had no idea of all that our library has to offer. You guys, I’m floored.

Forget about being able to download e-books for free (which I’m SUPER excited about) — there is so much more!

Did you know you can take classes on how to use Photoshop and other graphic design programs? Have you always wanted to be a photographer? They will teach you. There’s yoga, crochet, and Facebook classes. There are meeting and co-working rooms and even an audio production studio.

Authors and guest speakers are brought in to cover topics from how to build your business to dealing with an autistic child.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

These are your tax dollars at work, folks. You’re paying for it, so go take advantage of your library. Personally, I can’t wait.

—Debbie

P.S. It took me literally 10 seconds to apply for my new library card online: ocls.info.

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