Rent Movies From The Library For A DIY Film Festival

Did you know you can rent movies from the library as well as books?

Sometimes people don’t realize that they can rent movies from the library. Lots of movies are available in DVD form or to stream and download. Orange County Library System, encourages you to create your own DIY film festival using library resources. 

If you can't get enough of Orlando Science Center's new RESCUE exhibit, check out these search & rescue and survival films! 


True story: The author of this article once had a friend whose father was a firefighter. Once, the author slept over at this friend’s house and he was shown Backdraft for the first time. The author was so afraid of the noise that backdrafts made - and so insistent that the noise coming from the house’s a/c unit was, in fact, a backdraft - that he had to be picked up by his mom.

In the author’s defense, the film’s intense firefighting set pieces are still an excellent example of pre-CGI visual effects: you can practically feel the heat of the flames radiating from the screen. Backdraft also does an excellent job honoring the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters who risk their lives every day. Even if that message is sometimes undercut by the film’s overly campy tone.

the cover of the movie backdraft

Apollo 13

Based on the inspiring true story of astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, Apollo 13 is a white-knuckle voyage through the dangers of pioneering space travel. I’m scared of heights so being an astronaut was never in the cards, but the film does an excellent job of making me feel like I’m a part of the ill-fated lunar mission. Just as enjoyable are the scenes that take place on the ground, showcasing the ingenuity and quick-thinking of early NASA scientists and engineers.

apollo 13 movie cover

The Martian

Untethered by the gravitational hold of real-life events, The Martian launches the tale of space travel survival to new heights (again, no thank you). For those who loved the book, you may be comforted to know author Andy Weir’s devotion to realism and trademark comedic moments translate excellently to the screen. Thanks in no small part to skilled directing from Ridley Scott and an anchoring performance by Matt Damon.

The Martian movie cover

The Poseidon Adventure

It’s New Year’s Eve, 1972. You’re having a lovely time traveling to Greece aboard the luxurious ocean liner, SS Poseidon. Such a shame then, that someone would invite a 90-foot tidal wave to the party…

Though a defining example of the disaster movie genre, The Poseidon Adventure may seem trite compared to the visual spectacles and behemoth budgets of today’s tentpole pictures. But what keeps the movie afloat is a who’s who of early-70s celebrities including Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, and Shelly Winters.

the poseidon adventure movie cover

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Before the charismatic Taika Waitiki rose to superstardom as director of Thor: Ragnarok and JoJo Rabbit, he helmed this more intimate and comedic tale of a young boy and his foster father surviving in the New Zealand bush.

Based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress, Hunt for the Wilderpeople eschews the intensity of typical survival films with heartfelt humor and whimsical adventure.

the hunt for the wilderpeople movie cover

To explore Orange County Library System’s vast collection of digital and streaming movies, visit


Do you have what it takes to be a hero?

Search and rescue operations take place every minute, every hour, every day, all around the world. But what does a rescue scenario really involve? 

Through interactive exhibit pieces and the stories and testimonies of real-life heroes, the RESCUE exhibit will give guests a first-hand look into the technology and teamwork that goes into a rescue mission.

two kids on jet ski simulators

Books About Exploring Space for Any Planet Pioneer

From the moons of Endor to the moons of Jupiter, astronaut enthusiasts will love these books about exploring space!

Scientists from Albert Einstein to Carl Sagan have emphasized the importance of imagination. For something to be achieved, it must first be imagined. It’s little wonder then that science fiction has time and time again become reality.

Jules Vern imagined landing on the moon as far back as 1865 with From the Earth to the Moon. In 1953, Ray Bradbury described listening devices that sounds suspiciously like Bluetooth headsets in Fahrenheit 451. In 1898, the internet was described in a short story called “From the ‘London Times’ of 1904” by none other than Mark Twain. These are but a few examples.

In this spirit, here are some books about exploring space that you can find on your library’s shelves that complement the Science Center’s exhibit Our Planet. They’ll have you imagining what could be next!

Books selected by the Acquisitions Services department of Orange County Library System.

Whether you're a Trekkie or a Wookie, these books about exploring space are phenomenal for all sci-fi fans! 

by Andy Weir

Taking place in 2080, this novel is set in Artemis, the first and thus far only city on the Moon. The main character finds herself caught up in a conspiracy to control the city.

Artemis by Andy Weir

The Martian
by Andy Weir

The story follows an American astronaut, Mark Watney, as he becomes stranded alone on Mars in 2035 and must improvise in order to survive.

The Martian by Andy Weir

by Kim Stanley Robinson

Jumping forward in time quite a bit, this novel is set in 2545 and concerns an interstellar ark starship launched to being a human colony. The story is narrated by the ship’s artificial intelligence.

books about exploring space - Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Terranauts
by T.C. Boyle

A similar ark theme but set in a biosphere in 1994 as climate change threatens Earth. Human nature is under the microscope as eight scientists live and work in a prototype of a possible off-earth colony.

Books about exploring space - The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle

by Ben Bova

Part of the author’s Grand Tour Series, each novel follows the colonization of the Solar System by humans in the late 21st century.

Saturn by Ben Bova

Check out the history, herstory, and future of space travel with this non-fiction selection!


Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto
by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

The story of the men and women behind this amazing mission and their decades-long commitment and persistence. You’ll also get a look into the political fights within and outside of NASA.

non fiction books about exploring space - Chasing New Horizons_ Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

by Mike Massimino

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look back on Earth from outer space and see the surprisingly precise line between day and night? This author has been there and he puts you inside the astronaut suit with his book.

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars
by Nathalia Holt

Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, this is the riveting true story of the women who launched America into space.

non fiction books about exploring space -Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity
by Elizabeth Rusch

For younger readers, this books tells of two Mars rovers that were intended to do research for three months and wound up exploring the red planet for six years.

The Mighty Mars Rovers_ The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch

Packing for Mars
by Mary Roach

From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA's new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes you on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

The Mars challenge: The Past, Present, and Future of Human Spaceflight
by Alison Wilgus

This nonfiction graphic novel in which a teen who dreams of being the first woman on Mars is taken on a conceptual journey of what that might be like.

non fiction books about exploring space - The Mars challenge: The Past, Present, and Future of Human Spaceflight by Alison Wilgus


Try a Stellar Activity!

Have you ever looked up at night and thought "what does the moon feel like?"

Using our DIY Moon Sand recipe, you too can experiment and make your own moon craters and touch the surface of the moon!

Melrose Center 3D Printers Put to Work to Create PPE for Orlando Health

During quarantine, a team of makers from Orange County Library System has been using Melrose Center 3D printers and resources to create PPE.

In late March, Otronicon exhibitors Orange County Library System’s Melrose Center had their team investigating ways they could 3D print personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals. Working from home with Melrose Center 3D printers from the Fab Lab (a makerspace in the facility that offers hands-on classes and equipment for DIY projects), the team has been hard at work making visors, ear extenders and tension release bands for medical face shields by 3D printing or molding with liquid acrylic. Budmen Industries, a company that designs and sells 3D printers, provided files to staff to help create these PPE.

Fab Lab Instructor Harold Singh, using supplies at his home makerspace, began the initial process of printing these needed parts. With the help of his daughter, who works in the ICU, he delivered them to Orlando Health. At the same time, Fab Lab Instructor Yesenia Arroyo connected with the Central and South Florida chapters of the nonprofit Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies, a group working to connect makerspaces with medical professionals in need around the world. Soon after, the group received information from Orlando Health with details on what equipment could be accepted and work began. 


“The Melrose Center’s Fab Lab team is really happy to be able to join the maker community’s efforts to help our health care workers,” said Jim Myers, Department Head of The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity. “They are a focused and energized bunch, and glad to be in a position to make a small difference. I’m really proud of them.”


Orange County Library System man wearing 3D printed PPE equipment

In early April, Arroyo and fellow Fab Lab Instructors Jennifer Michalicek and Frank Mackey each took home a Melrose Center 3D printer, filament and other supplies from the Fab Lab. Melrose staff now have four printers creating face shield parts, which take around two hours each to complete. Singh has also created a rubber mold of the visor frame and can produce an additional four per hour using liquid acrylic.


After creating and preparing the final products, staff were directed to Orlando Health’s drop off center.  As of April, the team had made and delivered 426 face shield visors, 102 ear extenders and 40 tension release bands. Production is expected to continue, Orange County Library System is privileged to help community medical professionals in this small way.  

Orange County Library System woman works makes PPE equipment for Orlando Health