A Thanksgiving Message from CALS

Dear Friends,
lisa donovan
To say that 2020 has been a difficult year is a huge understatement. Even so, we at CALS have so much to be thankful for this holiday season, starting with you, our patrons! Serving you is the driving force behind everything we do. Whether you visit the library in person to pick up grab and go meals and activities, use the computers, check out books and use curbside service, or enjoy our beautiful outside spaces, we appreciate that you come to the library. In addition to coming to CALS for library services, earlier this month, more than 59,000 people voted at CALS libraries. Despite the long lines, people were patient, orderly, and cooperative. We are grateful that everyone follows our health protocols by wearing masks and social distancing when they visit us. This keeps us all safe and allows us to stay open so we can serve you.

Many of you access our ebooks and other digital resources and programs online. Thousands of children and adults attend storytimes, book clubs, DIY, and a host of other virtual programs each month. In October, we saw close to 2,000 attendees for the virtual Six Bridges Book Festival.

None of this would be possible without our talented and dedicated staff. They work tirelessly to make sure our libraries are clean, safe, and open for business. Right by their sides are volunteers, who so far this year, have logged 1,250 hours helping to distribute 143,000 meals and activity packets to children and families.

Finally, we’re grateful for our partners. Those relationships are invaluable as they help us expand our reach and better serve you. We were able to provide lunch and after-school meals with the help of organizations including Be Mighty Little Rock, the Little Rock School District, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, the City of Little Rock, the Clinton Foundation, Well Fed, and World Central Kitchen to name a few.

The Walton Family Foundation has provided funding for CALS to create the Count UP math tutoring program. Through this program, students can receive virtual tutoring through our new Brainfuse HelpNow online resource, or they can sign up to be matched with a local tutor. Through a partnership with Little Rock Parks and Recreation, CALS received a grant to join Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities, a program focused on improving safe and equitable local park access. In September, we created pop up bike and pedestrian lanes near Children’s Library, and we continue to work to make the streets in that neighborhood safe for families.

In December, we will run our annual Food for Fines project in partnership with the Arkansas Foodbank in which patrons donate food in exchange for having overdue fines waived. We’re also continuing our collaboration with Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, providing activities for the museum’s annual holiday event and collecting toys for Robert “Say” McIntosh’s Stop the Violence program through December 1.

For those of you who visit our locations in person, you have probably noticed interesting arts and crafts on display. Our partnership with the Arkansas Arts Center provides those pieces along with art classes for all ages which we hope will resume in 2021!

The Rock It! Lab, a partnership of CALS and ReMix Ideas, is a learning and start-up hub designed to promote entrepreneurship, particularly in under-resourced communities. It 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. Most programs are currently online, but Rock It! Lab will open a physical space at CALS Main Library in downtown Little Rock in 2021.

Our list of things to be thankful for goes on and on. Please drop us a line or give us a call if you have suggestions for ways we can improve or ideas for new services. Again, thank you for using the library. You are the reason we are here, and we are grateful for you!

Lisa Donovan
CALS Deputy Executive Director