Main on the Move

Main Library is now closed to the public to undergo renovations; core library services are available at the nearby Roberts Library. This page will be continuously updated with the latest news.

Do you have thoughts, comments, or suggestions about the renovation? Click below to tell us.
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February 7, 2024

Yesterday more than 120 people gathered on the first floor of the Main Library to bid it one final adieu. Except this isn’t goodbye, it’s definitely a “see you later.” During the event, several announcements about what patrons can expect from the building were made.  The announcement that Boulevard Bread Company would occupy the library cafe space on the first floor was met with a round of applause. Architect Reese Rowland, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects said, “We cannot wait for opening day when all of you come in and you look at this transformed space and you’re going to say, ‘Is this the same building?’ It’s going to be really fun.” He feels confident that the work should take between 12 and 14 months to complete, so hopefully this time next year we’re showing you all some really fun “almost done” sneak peeks!

Additional discussions included the fact that the removal of the interstate onramp makes it so that walls on that side can be opened up a bit to let in more natural light. The exterior facade will look very similar to its current state, but with extra glass and a vestibule on the front. The first floor corner will be renovated to create a separate entrance for Boulevard Bread.

Everything inside the building will be moved around with more intelligent design in mind. The Children’s Area will move to the rear of the first floor (where the Darragh Center was), so children can access the previously underutilized courtyard for programs; while the Teen’s Area will be moved to the 2nd floor, just above the Children’s. Overall the children’s and teens areas will have 70% more space than in the previous configuration.

All of the books will be moved to the front of the buildings making them easier to access, as well as take advantage of the new, natural light coming in. A new elevator at the front of the building will also make everything a bit more accessible.

The Lower Level will become a hub for digital learning by grouping the computer lab and new studio space. While the addition of a rooftop deck creates an amazing event space with some of the best downtown views the public can access. From top to bottom, this building is getting an overhaul with the end user in mind. Nate Coulter spoke about what he thinks will be a world class building – I think people will come here just because they want to be in the building because it’s so beautiful.


January 5, 2024

A “Wall Breaking Ceremony” will take place on February 6 at 11 a.m. This event is open to the public. Full details can be found here.

October 3, 2023

After a month of Main being closed and Mini Main up and running, there are still a few questions about what services can be found there. Ask no more. Here’s a comprehensive list of what can (and can’t) be found at Mini Main. Read here.

September 6, 2023

A book drop has been placed on the back steps of Roberts Library. As we continue to make updates and adjustments to “Mini Main,” we will post that information here.

August 28, 2023

The drive thru pick up window at Main Library is now closed to accommodate moving to Mini Main. Please call 501-918-3000 if you require curbside service.

August 9, 2023

In February of this year, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) announced that the flagship Main Library would be closing for extensive renovations this fall. The date of closing has been set for September 1, 2023. At that point, Main will no longer be open to patrons. CALS does not anticipate any interruption of services with the switch; all library services will carry over to Mini Main at Roberts Library. Find a schematic for the space in Roberts here. You can read the full press release about the closure and subsequent move here.

July 17, 2023

As the move date gets closer, we are continuing to thin out the collection available at Main. The large print collection currently lives at Main, beginning this week, that collection will move to Rooker, where it will remain throughout the renovation. If you need a large print book, (after July 21) you can visit the Rooker branch to pick it up, or have it held for you at whichever branch (or book locker) is most convenient for you.

June 6, 2023

We’re making moves! Beginning this morning, the 14 day holds area at Main Library is looking a little different. The books have been transferred to rolling shelving to allow moving the shelves over to “Mini Main” at Roberts. The books will stay at Main for now and we have been assured that

collections will continue to order new books for Main (but also, you can always request a hold from another branch and have it brought over to Main or the book lockers at Main if you see something you want to read).

Once the shelves are moved, the books will remain on the temporary rolling shelves until they are brought over to Mini Main.



June 1, 2023

The Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square are officially closed to make way for Mini Main. In order to disrupt as few services as possible during the renovation, the space where the Bookstore lived will be used for essential library services for the duration. We are sad to see the space go, but take heart, the entire staff will remain at CALS in a variety of positions. Here is a rendering of what we anticipate that space will look like and how it will be used. The research portion of the Bobby Roberts Library will remain open and unchanged.

CALS will continue to participate in 2nd Friday Art Night by working with other 2FAN organizations—more info to come! The Underground Gallery will still feature works from CALS’s extensive permanent collection of Arkansas artwork and will exhibit artwork from Arkansas artists and collectors.

May 20, 2023

Proposed changes the Darragh Center and Garden area that will become the new Children’s Area at Main, with convenient first floor access and separate entrance. (click on images to enlarge)

May 12, 2023

While the focus has been on Main, Williams Library is also expected to get a nice facelift! Be on the lookout for information about what to expect and the timeline of that project. Exterior work has begun with the addition of a new sign and a piece of artwork by Stephen Shachtman at the entrance to the adjacent Dunbar Gardens. See the artwork here.

April 17, 2023

Roberts Library blog has a bit of an update on the future of the Galleries & Bookstore as we move into the next phase. Read it here.

March 13, 2023

Concordia Hall has closed to the public in advance of the renovation. This space will be used to house the temporary Teen and Youth Services area. It is anticipated that it will continue to house art in some form during that time.

March 1, 2023

CALS hosted a Media Day on Tuesday, February 28, you can read news coverage from Arkansas Times, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and from KARK. During this event, a timeline of the renovation was announced as well as renderings provided by Polk Stanley Wilcox.

February 28, 2023

Two community meetings have been announced. Here’s your chance to let your voice be heard! We’ve moved into the planning phase of the renovation at Main and our partners, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects want to hear from you. The public is invited to discuss what you would like to see in the future with both Main Library as well as the space that houses the Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square.

March 11, 2023 10 a.m. to noon- Ron Robinson Theater
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March 30, 2023 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.- Darragh Center in the Main Library
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February 26, 2023

Update to the music move- the YA and adult music is now at home at Rooker where it will remain until after the renovation.

February 24, 2023

We are hosting a Media Day on Tuesday, February 28, at 10:00 in Concordia Hall. We’ll use this time to highlight some of our upcoming programs; provide updates on the Main renovations, bookmobile, and book sale; and give the public an opportunity to imagine how “Mini Main” will look inside Roberts Library. The event is open to the public. We’re also offering tours of Main Library.

The adult and young adult music has moved to its new home at the Oley E. Rooker library. It’s available for browsing, or feel free to place a hold on your favorite tunes and pick them up at your home branch!

February 1, 2023

Executive Director Nate Coulter addressed concerns over the closure of the Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square in an opinion piece for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. You can read it here.
If you have any trouble accessing the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette page, you can view as a PDF here.

January 27, 2023

On January 26, the CALS Board of Directors met in the Darragh Center at Main for the monthly board meeting; as the renovation looms and more information has become available to the public, there have been thoughts and input. Currently at the center of this discussion is the anticipated closing of the Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square. This space will need to be used for essential library services downtown, including (but not limited to) a book pickup area, public meeting rooms and public computer access. The board listened to the the statements put forth by the citizen in attendance and promised to take these concerns into serious consideration as the project moves forward.

Read more about the board meeting in the Arkansas Times and in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Read this article from Soiree that explains the move.

January 18, 2023

Beginning January 31, the YA and adult music collection will be moved to Rooker Library and remain there until after the renovation is complete. Once Rooker is ready to receive everything, the music collection will be suppressed, so it will not be visible to patrons for check out or holds. The shelving will be moved to Rooker, followed by the music collection. Once everything is set back up and accessible, the collection will be unsuppressed. This process should take around a month to complete. In the meantime, we suggest checking out Freegal; this app gives patrons access to 24/7 streaming as well as 5 free song downloads per month.

January 5, 2023

Executive Director Nate Coulter explains a bit of what can be expected in the near future as CALS begins the big move at Main. Read his letter here.


Do you have thoughts, comments, or suggestions about the renovation? Click below to tell us.
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