Public Health and the Public Library

May 4, 2020 UPDATE

CALS will be closed to the public and all programs have been suspended until further notice. Due dates have been extended to May 18 and fines will begin to accrue on May 19. Beginning Monday, May 11, curbside service will be available from 9:00am-6:00pm at all branches, except Brooks Library in Wrightsville.

April 27, 2020 UPDATE

Curbside service is now available at all CALS locations, with the exception of Brooks Library in Wrightsville. Patrons may now place holds on any items in the catalog and have then transported to the library of their choice (again, excepting Brooks library) for pickup. Items may be returned to any branch at a designated book drop — some branches have more than one book drop, so please follow signs to the one that is currently open.

April 7, 2020 UPDATE

CALS will be closed to the public and all programs have been suspended until at least May 11. Due dates have been extended so overdue fines will not accrue. Please do not return items to outdoor bookdrops. No fines will be assessed for not picking up holds.
For more information, please contact:

March 24, 2020 UPDATE

We’re happy to announce curbside service starts today!

This service is part of our continuing effort to keep you connected while also keeping you safe. Main Library has a drive-thru window, so we’ve decided to start the service there and will explore what options are available for expanding service to the branches. If you placed items on hold to be picked up at Main Library before we suspended operations last week, look forward to a phone call from us.

Please make note of the following:

  • We aren’t accepting new requests at this time. We hope we’re able to add that service soon.
  • We are not accepting returned items. Library materials should not be left outside the library buildings or in the book drops. Please keep your checked-out items until the library reopens or we notify you it’s safe to return them.
  • We plan to offer curbside service 2-6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. During this time, we also plan to offer telephone service. Call 918-3000 for assistance. Please check often for updates.

The health and safety of our community and our staff are important to us. We appreciate your patience as we explore the best options to serve you.

March 19, 202o UPDATE

After having reviewed the recommendations of federal, state, and local authorities, administrators at the Central Arkansas Library System have decided to extend the closure of all CALS buildings to the public through April 19, 2020. Due dates for borrowed materials will automatically be extended, no late fines will be assessed, and customers can return materials when the Library reopens.

For more information, please contact us at

Thank you for your patience as we do our best to provide the best service possible under these difficult circumstances.


March 17, 2020 UPDATE

CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. Read full recommendation.

As CALS administrators have monitored the latest updates from the CDC, we have opted to follow CDC guidelines for the full 8-week period by cancelling all further meeting room bookings and programs through Saturday, May 9, 2020.

We will not accept new meeting room reservations until May 11. If your meeting was affected by the scheduling changes, you will be given priority if you choose to reschedule.

If you are interested in rescheduling, please call your local branch beginning May 11. You can also monitor the library’s website and social media for updates on the suspension of programs and meetings.

We apologize for any further inconvenience, but we feel it is essential based on the social distancing advice we are receiving from health organizations.

March 14, 2020 UPDATE

We have been closely monitoring the events of the day in our branches, our community, and across the U.S. and are committed to following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for social distancing. For the safety of our patrons and staff, CALS leadership has made the decision to close all CALS locations to the public effective Saturday, March 14, at 1:00 p.m. We will remain closed until at least Monday, March 23, and will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation to determine if further closure is necessary for public health. We will provide an update to our closure status to our patrons on or before Friday, March 20.

CALS staff and/or volunteers will be available to distribute grab-and-go meals to children at the previously scheduled times and locations:

Weekends: Saturday, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Dee Brown Library
6325 Baseline Road, Little Rock

McMath Library
2100 John Barrow Road, Little Rock

Sue Cowan Williams Library
1800 Chester St., Little Rock

Weekdays: 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Dee Brown Library
6325 Baseline Road, Little Rock

McMath Library
2100 John Barrow Road, Little Rock

Sue Cowan Williams Library
1800 Chester St., Little Rock

If we are able to serve meals at more locations, we will post the information here.

We are working on a plan to provide limited service, such as holds pick-up in lobbies or curb-side service, while we are closed to the public beginning early next week. Please check often for updates and to access ebooks and other digital resources. We have updated the due date to April 1, 2020, for all checked out items with due dates from January 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020, and will waive fees for holds that are not picked up through March 31, 2020.

For more information, please contact us at 918-3000 or

Thank you for your patience as we do our best to provide the best service possible under these difficult circumstances.

March 13, 2020 UPDATE

March 12, 2020 UPDATE

Effective Friday, March 13, CALS is suspending programs, events, public meeting room use, and outreach through the end of the month.

We will continue to monitor the situation and won’t resume scheduled activities until we determine that the risk to public health is minimized for patrons and staff.

We are asking that anyone under sixteen that comes to the library be accompanied by an adult (18+) as well. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at (501) 918-3000 or

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

March 11, 2020

We want to keep you informed of ongoing efforts by our staff to protect library users and employees as much as possible from the risks of the COVID-19 virus. Late this morning, we learned of a presumptive case of the virus reported today out of Jefferson County. The spread of the virus is a serious public health challenge. CALS wants to take all reasonable steps to lower the risk of exposure to our library users and staff.

Public libraries are by their nature more than outward-facing places. We supervise 15 branch libraries and several other public buildings. More than 5,000 people come through our facilities every day. To be as prepared as possible and respond appropriately to the developing situation, we have had communication with the Arkansas Department of Health and city officials. We are monitoring updates from national public health agencies and reviewing the steps taken by other busy library systems around the country, particularly those in communities with a growing number of confirmed cases of the virus.

The foremost step to take is to ask anyone showing symptoms of the coronavirus to avoid visiting the library in person while you may be contagious. The chief symptoms are fever and coughing. This will protect our staff and other library users.

Should you have any of the symptoms identified on the CDC website, we encourage you to call the library rather than visiting in person, and we will help you over the phone with any questions. We also have millions of digital items—e-books, audio books, movies, TV shows, music, and magazines—that can be streamed or downloaded directly to your digital devices from the comfort and safety of your home using your library card number.

Preventive Measures

If cases of coronavirus are identified in our service areas of Pulaski County and Perry County, we will be working with any public guidelines and health measures from county and city authorities as well as national experts.

For now, we are taking the following steps for prevention:

  • Adding additional cleaning and sanitation procedures in our buildings
  • Providing reminders for staff and customers about hand washing hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes
  • Encouraging staff and library users to stay home if they have any symptoms of illness
  • Making hand sanitizers available for library staff and users when possible

CALS will continue to fulfill its mission as a civic resource at all times, and will provide updates based on verifiable, scientifically valid information in order to keep our community members as informed and healthy as possible.

If you prefer not to visit in person, you can contact the Main Library by telephone at (501) 918-3000. Additional branch library telephone numbers are available under “Visit Us” at

For additional updates on coronavirus measures for the library system, please follow us on our blog, Facebook, or on Twitter @CALibrarySystem.

Nate Coulter
Executive Director, Central Arkansas Library System


For reliable information on the 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) and the response from national, state, and local authorities, see the following websites: