The Orange County Library System (OCLS) recently launched the Local Wanderer Pass, and it’s proving to be a popular program in the few short weeks since it went live. The cultural-pass program allows library cardholders to receive free entry to local organizations such as the Mennello Museum of American Art, Hard Rock Live and the Orlando Repertory Theatre.
Cultural pass programs like Local Wanderer are a growing trend among American public libraries, says Mike Donohue, project lead and community outreach & administrative coordinator at OCLS.
“New York Public Library has one that they announced last year, and there is a story that came out last week that 70,000 people have taken advantage of it already in their service area,” Donohue said. “We wanted to bring something to that level to our library system.”
Local Wanderer allows access to venues they may not usually explore, and OCLS wanted to make sure it had a distinctive look to draw in those explorers. They approached Sean Walsh of Secret Society Goods, a local artist, to create a unique identity for the program.
“When the team at OCLS began explaining it to me, I thought, ‘Oh, yeah. This is going to be good.’ There’s so much more to our city than theme parks and tourists, and there are plenty of residents who would like to get and experience what else we have to offer,” Walsh wrote in an email. “With Local Wanderer, I think OCLS is about to give them the push they need to make it happen.”
The library chose someone local to design the marketing materials to keep the program completely local.
“I think it drives home the point that it is a hyper-local program, and it’s inherently Orlando,” said Scottie Campbell, OCLS marketing specialist and another member of the Local Wanderer team. “This is a special program, and he would be able to give us a look that was a little bit different.”
The process of becoming a Local Wanderer is simple. Go to ocls.info/local-wanderer, pick a date, and see what passes are available. Log in with your valid library card and receive your pass electronically. No need to visit a branch, unless you want to research the destination or show you’re attending.
Donohue said the goal of the pass-delivery system is ease of use and accessibility. That meant more time on the planning process to make sure the library got it right.
“It’s been two years in the making, and some of the real challenges have been on our end — trying to figure out a way to circulate passes through our system,” Donohue said. “We’re used to books and DVDs or things like that with a barcode or a finite inventory. We talked to other libraries that have had similar issues and ultimately settled on software that eliminates a lot of the staff time that some other libraries have to devote to this program.”
That automation means passes, available up to a month in advance, are posted around midnight every night. And they are proving popular.
“Right now, there’s not a single pass available,” Donohue said. “From our end, we’re trying to secure these partners as quickly as possible so there is more inventory for customers to take advantage of.”
Organizations currently participating in the Local Wanderer program:
- Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
- Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
- Hard Rock Live
- Mennello Museum of American Art
- Orange County Regional History Center
- Orlando Museum of Art
- Orlando Repertory Theatre
- Orlando Shakes
- Orlando Solar Bears