31 Reasons to Love CALS

Over the 31 days of December we’re looking back at whatever this year was, the ways we and other libraries have adapted during the pandemic, the things we’ve always loved about libraries, and some of the new things we look forward to sharing with you more in 2021.

Birdwatching Kits

Thanks to a generous memorial gift from the family of Alan Ross Kumpe, each CALS branch has birdwatching kits available for checkout to all CALS cardholders. Each kit contains a carrying bag, Celestron binoculars, binocular guide, polishing cloth, lens caps (three), and one book (Birds of Arkansas).

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Online Learning

The Central Arkansas Library System offers several options for those wanting to learn a new skill, train for a new job, practice a new language, or brush up on a new technology or software. Each of these online learning options is available for free to CALS cardholders.

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Mobile Printing

Need to print a resume? The article you need for a report? That recipe you found online? Use our mobile printing service to print from your phone, tablet, laptop, Chromebook, even your home computer and pick up the printed document at your favorite CALS branch. All you need is an email address and a document to print.

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Grab ‘n Go Activities

Two things are certain – parents will always need free activities to entertain their kids and CALS will always have free activities to entertain your kids. But, it’s 2020 and we can’t gather inside, you say? No worries. Our librarians have created a series of Grab ‘N Go activities for you to, well, grab and go. Pick up a weekly grab ‘n go craft kit from your favorite branch and take it home to complete at your leisure.

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All Central Arkansas Library System cardholders have access to millions of free songs through our Freegal service. You may download up to five songs per week and, the best part, you get to keep them forever! No late fees, no returns. Just all the streaming music you can handle. Freegal apps are available for Apple and Android, but you can also stream and download just by visiting cals.freegalmusic.com.

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Tired of having to keep track of (and return) all the books you’ve checked out? Don’t have time to travel to the nearest branch to browse for books? Want the convenience of having all your reading in one place? eBooks are for you! The Central Arkansas Library System has tens of thousands of ebook titles to choose from in all genres and for all audiences. All you need to get started is a CALS library card, a computer or mobile device, and an internet connection.

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Notary Services

Despite the increasing ubiquity of virtual and digital experiences, one thing we all have to do from time to time is verify our identity in person, with a signature. CALS provides free notary service for library users, and most branches have at least one notary on staff. While we strive to provide notary service at all times, we do not guarantee notary availability. Please call the branch you wish to visit to confirm a notary will be available when you arrive.

CALS notaries notarize signatures on forms, oaths, acknowledgements, and affidavits, and similar documents.

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The Central Arkansas Library System offers thousands and thousands of ebooks and audiobooks. You can borrow them – for free, instantly – with a library card. That’s it. A library card gives you free access to virtually all you could want to listen to.

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Virtual Grinchfest will be presented online starting at 9 am on December 22, and ending at 8:59 am December 23rd. We will have crafts and giveaways available for pick up at the Children’s Library and Learning Center during business hours (9am to 6pm) starting December 22, until supplies last. The program will stream on CALS Children’s Library facebook, and also on THV11 and the Arkansas Arts Center facebook channels.

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Friends of CALS Used Book Sale

The pandemic has forced us to put a lot on hold this year, including our quarterly Friends of CALS Used Book Sale, but, like you we’ve learned how to make a virtual version of almost everything we do. So, we’re excited to have our end of the year Online Friends of CALS Used Book Sale! You may purchase tote bags stuffed with selections of books from one of several genres. Or, you may select sets of books which all share a common book jacket color. All proceeds help the Friends of CALS to support the programs and services of the Central Arkansas Library System.

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Tool Library

Need to find a giant mallet to use just once for a fence you’re putting in at home? How about some wire cutters or a voltage meter? Whether you need to do some painting, drywalling or those bushes need pruning, you can find the tools to do it at the new CALS tool lending library. You can even use a machine to read your car’s engine codes!

Located at the CALS Dee Brown Library in Little Rock, the tool library allows any card-holding CALS patron 18 and older to check out up to 5 tools at a time, or 3 power tools. The library already holds a wide variety of tools, including rakes, shovels, a pole saw, drills, hammers, trowels, dropcloths, wrenches, car repair gadgets, and safety gear of all kinds. More tools will be entering the catalog soon, including large lawn care power tools.

The tool library also includes a bike repair station outdoors that is accessible at all hours. Books on repairs of all kinds are also part of the tool library and can be checked out to help with projects.

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Genealogy Services

The Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies offers a beginner’s genealogy class the second Monday of every month where participants learn how to use online databases and city directories, as well as how to archive family documents. CALS’s Roberts Library offers a genealogy research room which includes access to online genealogy databases like Ancestry and to a significant collection of genealogical books and microfilm. In addition, CALS has an Ask-a-Genealogist service which offers personalized assistance with your family research.

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The Central Arkansas Library System and the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society have partnered to make telescopes available for lending to CALS cardholders with funding provided by the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium. The telescopes are 4.5″ Orion StarBlast Newtonian instruments that gather several hundred times more light than the unaided eye and magnify up to 56 times. They are particularly suited to observing the moon and the brighter planets, such as Saturn and Jupiter, and, under proper conditions, “deep sky” objects, such as star clusters.

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Binge Read Lists

Every book lover knows that bingeing isn’t just for movies and tv, but sometimes we all need a good recommendation for what to binge read. The librarians at CALS have got you covered. We have lists of romance novels and political thrillers, costume dramas and scary novels, award-winning books and true crime stories. So, if the idea of curling up with a good book for a few days is calling to you, but you don’t know where to start, click the button below.

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Count UP Math Tutoring

CALS Count UP Math Tutoring program will address the need to improve math skills and the need for expert assistance with math homework faced by many students and parents/guardians in our Central Arkansas service area. The Count UP program headquarters will be at CALS Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center. Students will be able to connect with tutors online to ask for assistance with specific problems or homework issues, or participate in intensive, ongoing, one-on-one tutoring with expert volunteers. This program is funded by a generous donation from the Walton Family Foundation.

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Six Bridges Book Festival

For almost two decades now, the Central Arkansas Library System’s Six Bridges Book Festival (previously known as the Arkansas Literary Festival) has been the premier celebration of books, authors, words, and reading in the Natural State. A healthy mix of Arkansas wordsmiths and artists along with international and national best-selling authors, the Festival is opportunity for readers to meet and engage with well-known or soon-to-be well-known writers about their work and their shared love of words and literature. The most recent Festival took place in October 2020 and you may browse an archive of each of the author sessions on our YouTube channel.

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Live Music

One program that we’ve missed most during the pandemic has been Arkansas Sounds, our regular series of live music concerts, featuring some of the most talented musicians in and around central Arkansas. Until we can hold live events again, you may review some of our previous Arkansas Sounds concerts on our YouTube channel.

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Movie Binge Boxes

A Binge Box contains four to six movies to satisfy your viewing needs for hours on end. Each binge box includes dvds based on actor, director, subject matter, genre, era and eclectic themes such as “Movies With Debatable Endings,” and “Intelligent Life Is Out There…Somewhere” Perfect for holiday breaks, family film festivals, road trips and more, binge boxes can be found on our catalog.

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Toy Library

Looking for ways to keep your children interested in active play in a world overrun with the latest digital devices? Now, parents and caregivers can find help at the first toy library in Arkansas, a program of our CALS Nixon Library. Our rotating, renewable supply of high-quality toys will stoke a child’s natural curiosity while easing the family budget. And all the toys are free to check out, thanks to a generous private donor, Liza Wilson.

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Art Galleries

The Galleries at Library Square highlight art by Arkansas creators and showcase exhibitions that promote Arkansas history and culture. The Galleries are located on the first floor of Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art. There are four exhibition galleries that host rotating exhibitions, including works from the CALS permanent collection. There is also a retail gallery that offers work by Arkansas artists.

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Seed Library

The Seed Library is a free program committed to increasing our ability to feed ourselves wholesome food by offering seeds and education. Through the time­honored tradition of seed saving we celebrate biodiversity, nurture locally adapted plant varieties, and foster community resilience, self-reliance and a culture of sharing.

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Holiday Shopping

The Central Arkansas Library System makes it easy to shop local for the holidays at downtown’s Library Square. The Galleries at Library Square offers hundreds of pieces of affordably priced original art made by Arkansas artists. And, the Bookstore at Library Square has thousands of gift items and “gently used” books for the book lover on your holiday shopping list – right now, all genres are 50% off. DVDs and CDs are currently available 3 for $5. And, this year the Friends of CALS have made a special online book shopping experience available just in time for the holidays.

Galleries at Library Square Bookstore at Library Square Friends of CALS Book Sale

Encyclopdedia of Arkansas

The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is a free, authoritative source of information about the rich history, geography, and culture of Arkansas. It is updated regularly to ensure the people of Arkansas have an accurate and accessible resource to explore our heritage. It will also benefit people outside the state who are seeking information about Arkansas.

We invite you to browse our text entries and media galleries to learn more about the people, places, events, legends, and lore of the 25th state. The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is a work in progress. We are continually adding new entries, photographs, maps, videos, and audio files, so check back frequently to see what’s new.

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Food For Fines

Shed unwanted library fines this holiday season. The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) is continuing its tradition of helping those in need by holding its annual Food for Fines event from Monday, November 30, through Monday, December 7.

Food for Fines gives patrons an opportunity to help others in central Arkansas and to reduce fines for overdue library materials.
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Free Tech Classes

Learn to use technology to make your life–and the world–better. If you’re a technology beginner or you’re looking to expand your skills, there’s a class for you.

If you’re a technology beginner, you can start out strong with our Computer Essentials classes. To hone your workplace skills, you can attend classes on Microsoft Office products, MailchimpCanvaInDesign, and other resume-builders. If you’re a creative type–or want to be–we can teach you about the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite (including Photoshop), video editingphotography, and even game development.

And of course, all classes are free of charge.

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Rock It! Lab

The Rock It! Lab, a partnership of the library system and ReMix Ideas, is a learning and start-up hub designed to promote entrepreneurship, particularly in under-resourced communities. Located at CALS Main Library in downtown Little Rock, the Rock It! Lab was developed as a place for aspiring business owners to access useful, reliable, and free information to aid them throughout the process of starting their company.
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Book Club Kits

Did you know that CALS lends kits that make having a book club easy? Made possible by Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries, each kit contains copies of a title and a discussion guide, and can be checked out for six weeks.
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Virtual Author Sessions

Connecting readers with authors is central to the mission of all libraries. The Central Arkansas Library System regularly invites authors to join us (virtually, during the pandemic) to discuss their books, the art of writing, and the conversation between readers and writers. In the past year, CALS has hosted its annual Six Bridges Book Festival, the CALS Speaker Series, and the NEA One Big Read program.

Our next virtual author session is tonight, December 3rd! We are hosting Edward Ball, author of Life of a Klansman, which tells the story of a warrior in the Ku Klux Klan, a carpenter in Louisiana who took up the cause of fanatical racism during the years after the Civil War. Ball, a descendant of the Klansman, paints a portrait of his family’s anti-black militant that is part history, part memoir rich in personal detail.
Register for this author session >

Virtual Storytime

Storytime for kids is a fundamental part of CALS’s regular programming. Though we haven’t been able to be together for many months, our commitment to early childhood literacy has not waned. Each week several branches of the Central Arkansas Library System host a live virtual storytime on Facebook. Recorded storytimes may also be viewed at any time on our YouTube page for children. For more information about upcoming storytimes at CALS, click the button below.
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Curbside Service

Perhaps the biggest addition to our list of services this year has been our Curbside Service program. If you put items on hold before the library closes, you can pick them up! Or, you can call or email the branch library to ask for “concierge service,” which means that the library will check for you to see if the item you want is available, then put it on hold for you. You then drive to that library branch and call the phone number on the sign outside. A few minutes later, the library elves will tell you that your materials are waiting for you. You walk down the sidewalk and poof! Your books or DVDS will have magically appeared in front of the library.

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