The Melrose Center ignites creativity in the community

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What do you picture when you think of the library? Books and computers are pretty standard. How about recording songs in a professional studio, using a DSLR camera, and operating a flight simulator?

Photo credit: KELLY LAMANO

The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity opened in February 2014. This 26,000-square-foot space was designed with creators and curious library patrons in mind.

“We cultivate the community throughout the Center,” Jim Myers, Melrose Center manager, said.

The Center, formerly a nonfiction social science book section, houses an impressive lineup: photography studio, audio studio, video studio, fabrication lab, and simulator lab. All equipment and software is free — you just need a library card!

“We see the Melrose Center as another collection,” Myers said. “It’s just a very unique collection. It’s something you borrow, and that’s your privilege as a resident of our library service area.”

The Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation donated $1,000,000 to fund the Center, honoring the matriarch of the family.

“[Dorothy] was a lover of libraries, a lover of emerging technologies,” Myers said. “She was an investor, and the family wanted to honor her memory by doing something that would embody what she loved.”

Library instructors offer classes ranging from photography lighting techniques to shooting a family video intro.

“I have been super passionate about bringing families and kids in together to use the Center,” video instructor Tori Abram-Copenhaver said. “I love helping others experiencing new things and sharing the knowledge.”

Abram-Copenhaver created the library’s Top 5 Tuesday Countdown, a video series providing tips on camera, audio, and video techniques.

The staff also organizes original community events such as Open Mic: The Voice of Melrose.

Marko Torres, a staff member, musician, and theater enthusiast, created the open mic night. He even learned to perform right here at the Center.

“It’s a nonjudgmental place,” Torres said. “This is where you sharpen your skills, and you should feel safe in an environment like this.”

Torres works with audio instructor Leonardo Linares and other staff to bring open mic to life with professional sound and photos.

“For me, it was very natural to work here and come up with ideas that combine what I love, which is singing, music, and audio, with helping others,” Linares said.

Linares also worked with Myers to organize Melrose in the Mix: Live Recording Sessions, an event where audience members watch and assist with engineering music sessions.

“It’s a real team effort here,” Myers said. “We definitely rely on the experts.”

Myers encourages everyone to visit the Center to explore what it offers. “We hope people are drawn to us and they can’t help but want to come back,” he said.

Walk, bike, or drive to Orlando’s best-kept secret: the Melrose Center.


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