Events & Classes
Everything is going to be fine.
Early last Spring, we increased the fine limit to allow a bit of breathing room for our patrons as we all adjusted to a difficult time. But now, it’s time for all of us to begin the process of returning to normal, including reducing our fine limit to pre-pandemic amounts.
Each kit includes a small journal, a color change pen, and a guide to get you started sketching and writing about the natural world. Available from the Fletcher library circulation desk or through curbside pick-up while supplies last.
February 12–May 1, 2021
CALS Roberts Library, Galleries at Library Square
“Blood and soil.” These words have been used by Nazis and others as a rallying cry for racial purity, one of the most destructive concepts ever developed. When they are used as materials for creative expression,
January 8 to April 24, 2021
CALS Underground Gallery
This exhibition showcases the sculptures and paintings of two of Arkansas’s outstanding artists. Sandra Sell explores the contrast and rhythmic tension inherent in carved wood, and Elizabeth Weber’s work explores the concepts of hidden growth and transformation.
Check the CALS Roberts Library website here: https://robertslibrary.org/visit/location-hours/ for gallery hours and visiting procedures.
Presented by CALS Writing Circle, this ongoing class meets once each week and takes attendees aged 55+ through the steps of writing their own life stories. You’ll be given tools and techniques to help you learn to write regularly and productively. Everyone is welcome; no writing experience is required.
No matter who you are,
Roxane Gay is an author and cultural critic whose writing is unmatched and widely revered. Her work garners international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism. With a deft eye on modern culture, she brilliantly critiques its ebb and flow with both wit and ferocity.
Her collection of essays,
Eliza Borné Joins CALS as Development Director
The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) has hired Eliza Borné as its new Director of Development effective March 29, 2021. Borné, an experienced grant writer and fundraiser, comes to the library system from the award-winning Oxford American magazine, where she served as editor-in-chief.
Eliza Borne“Eliza is an exceptional leader who brings vision and a breadth of experience to the library’s fundraising efforts,” said Nate Coulter, CALS executive director. “Her accomplishments during her tenure at Oxford American are noteworthy, but she has also been a frequent library user and a volunteer with our Six Bridges Book Festival for years. Eliza’s interests and background will give her insight into the unique opportunities and challenges of library fundraising.”Read More
A Message from CALS
Happy New Year. Last year was challenging for all of us in so many ways. The library was not spared any of the stress and hardship of 2020, but I’m pleased to bring this report to you and declare that we were not only able to adjust and adapt to the pandemic, but to thrive at times. Thanks to our dedicated staff and your patience and support, CALS’ achievements last year were remarkable.
As the pandemic hit our state in early March, we pivoted to virtual programming; taking our story times and craft spaces into a YouTube channel and adjusting our accompanying craft time to become Grab & Go kits so that kids and parents can get the same experience at home.
We took two of our largest annual programs virtual – Six Bridges Book Festival and Summer Reading Club. Six Bridges spanned eleven days, and featured more than 60 authors, many of whom hosted sessions live via Zoom.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas kept growing, surpassing 6,000 entries and serving as a constant source for journalists, teachers, and anyone interested in putting the events of today into context. I was particularly proud to see an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial on March 22, 2020, marveling at how the EOA seems to turn up everywhere people were seeking to understand the history and people of our state, even as far reaching as Antarctica.
CALS was one of 78 nonprofit organizations to receive a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant to host a community reading of The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. This $14,900 grant allowed us to share the author’s insights with our patrons and celebrate the joy of engaging with others about a good book.
Even as we were faced with so much uncertainty and many organizations were pulling back, we were able to launch two new programs, Count UP and Rock It! Lab. With a generous grant from the Walton Family Foundation, Count UP offers students one-on-one virtual math tutoring and access to online help with math homework.
We have also drawn help from members of the math faculty of UA Little Rock for this new program. The Rock It! Lab offers expertise and mentoring for aspiring entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities. We have a dedicated space for this program in the Main Library, but currently this program has launched virtually. The Heart of Arkansas United Way and a local private donor contributed significantly to the financial underwriting of this new program which is in partnership with Benito Lubazibwa and ReMix Ideas.
As part of fulfilling our 2019 strategic plan calling for more efforts to lower barriers to the library, we added two community liaisons and an outreach coordinator to increase engagement with underserved individuals and to gain a sharper understanding of how we might better serve unmet needs of people outside our library buildings. One early mark of this new work was in refashioning the Millie Brooks Library in Wrightsville. In 2021, watch for more of these efforts to learn what we can do to help people connect with their library as a source of inspiration and transformation.
CALS also extended itself to help with civic participation. Our community liaisons to the Black and Latinx communities assisted local government with the important work of helping ensure Arkansans were counted in the 2020 census. Eight of our library locations were utilized as early and Election Day polling sites last fall. The City of Little Rock & CALS meals program partnership, Be Mighty, initiated in 2019, teamed up with the Little Rock School District and World Central Kitchen to serve three meals a day to children from the first day schools were closed in March through July. We recruited 77 volunteers to help us serve those meals at our libraries.
It is a tribute to our staff’s passion and hard work that CALS was acknowledged with an honorable mention for the second annual Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize by the Library Journal in November. This award recognizes the public library as a vital community asset; CALS was noted for our “imaginative and replicable focus on equity, social justice and the health of our communities.”
All of this works hand in hand with the notion that CALS is The Library, Rewritten. Books are and will always remain a central part of our mission but the library is no longer a quiet building where we loan out books. From live music and art galleries to tool rentals and business incubators, we have fully reimagined what it means to be a library in our community.
Thank you for making this possible; we could not have done this without your support and your abiding commitment to maintaining a first-class public library in our community. Thank you to our many partners, those mentioned above and others like the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Clinton Foundation, Little Rock Parks and Rec, and UA Clinton School of Public Service, to name a few, who enabled our successes in 2020 despite a global pandemic. I extend my personal thank you to the 13 fine citizens from all over our service area who give their time and energy to serving on the CALS board. I offer my heartfelt thanks to our staff for weathering the stress and threats to their health with grit and tenacity for their work. And last but not least, thank you to every one of our patrons who continued to use and appreciate their public library. I’m excited about 2021 and hope to see you all – one way or another. Stay healthy!
CALS Executive Director