By Emily Libecki, OLS Staff
Escape Rooms, 3D printing, international festivals, comic conventions, visits from ghost hunters–doesn’t this sound like a trip to Disney Springs or downtown Orlando? Good news! These fun activities are close at hand, all part of the innovative programming available at the Osceola Library System. What’s even better? They’re free!
Across the country, libraries are working hard to integrate new technology and culturally diverse programming for the communities they serve. OLS is no exception, offering a range of computer classes—from social media and Microsoft Office to 3D printing—as well as numerous introductory courses in subjects like Tai Chi, pre-17th century fencing, and much, much more.
OLS staff were responsible for the development and implementation of Fan Faire, Osceola County’s first comic convention, which is now owned and operated by the City of Kissimmee. Creative programming continues to be a staple of OLS events, with the St. Cloud Library’s hugely popular Harry Potter bonanza, the International Festival hosted at both the Buenaventura Lakes and Hart Memorial Libraries, and the numerous, originally created Escape Rooms, which are now signature experiences amongst staff and visitors alike.
In addition to cultural and technological awareness, OLS strives for outstanding accessibility. Each branch offers private rooms, which can be used by outside organizations, study groups, etc. There are also computers with video chat capability that have been set aside for members of the Deaf community. Considerations have been made to different age groups: every branch has zones, which cater to adults and children respectively. One such space is the newly opened “Tinker Town” at Hart Memorial Library, a hands-on learning environment with STEAM activities for little engineers 5 and under. Everyone has a place at OLS.
Literacy and supplementary education are a library’s foremost responsibility.
OLS cardholders have access to research databases from home computers as well as through each library location. They can use practice tests for exams such as: ACT, SAT, and the ASVAB. The databases also offer access to Mango Languages, Universal Class (a library of college accredited courses), Ancestry, and DMV testing. New this year, OLS is now a host location for Career Online High School. OLS is proud to support those seeking to further their education or simply feed their intellectual curiosity.
OLS is not a traditional brick and mortar library; they offer electronic collections through online apps, which can be downloaded to tablets and cellphones, and used on computer browsers. Overdrive, hoopla, Odilo (for those fluent in Spanish), RBDigital, and Kanopy provide OLS members with the opportunity to read ebooks, comics, magazines, watch TV shows and movies, and listen to audiobooks.
It’s a lot to take in, but staff are happy to help along the journey. OLS cares about supporting Osceola’s vibrant community through programming, vital services, and a love for books, all for free. Stop by to become a part of the Osceola Library System, where books are just the beginning.