Summer update from the Executive Director

Nate Coulter, CALS Executive Director

For a lot of people who work with children at the library this window of time heading into summer is one of the favorite times of the year. Our branches begin to see families and younger patrons more and more. Their energy and eagerness to learn are infectious.

This year we are kicking off Summer Reading Club (SRC) with events all over the system, from color wars and photo booths to concerts and magicians, this year’s program lives up to the theme – “Oceans of Possibilities.” There are fun events at every branch running through the end of July, and as always, these events are free. Our friends at Community Bakery created cookie decorating kits with a SRC theme. This local business donated $5 from each kit to CALS to help support library programming.

As we move into summer, many children who have previously relied on lunches provided through school lunch might find themselves without. Many of our branches do offer free lunch, snacks and dinners. Find out more here.

During the summer months, we tend to focus more heavily on the children’s activities, but we also have some amazing author discussions and book signings lined up for the adults as well.  Join us for a virtual presentation featuring Sloane Crosley discussing her book Cult Classic then come out to the Terry branch as Rhona Weaver signs copies of her book,  A Sacred Duty. The rest of the month is packed with native seed presentations, Terror Tuesdays, and so much more.

In April, CALS was notified that we are a finalist for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. We are honored to be among the 15 library finalists. Congratulations to the winners. Leading up to the announcement, we were collecting stories from patrons about how the library has impacted your lives. And while the competition is over, we still enjoy collecting these. What’s your CALS Story? Has CALS impacted your life in a meaningful way, big or small? We would love to hear about it.

We are thankful for the support of those who love the library and understand the value of having a strong public library system in this community. Last month CALS was on the ballot, and once again, Little Rock voters demonstrated the trust they have in us. Little Rock voters by 2 to 1 approved an extension of the capital improvement library tax on May 24 but at a lower rate than is currently in place. This will offset the increase in the millage for operating the library that was approved last fall and honor CALS’ pledge take the first opportunity after last year’s increase to propose a reduction of the capital improvement tax by the same amount. In other words, by agreeing to raise one part of their tax commitment and lower another, voters have ensured ample resources available for patrons and staff, removed barriers to accessing materials, and enhanced the facilities that so many depend on for basic needs without any net increase in taxes. We are excited to use new capital-improvement funds to purchase a state-of-the-art book mobile, renovate and create spaces that better serve our patrons, and continue make our libraries something that the entire community can treasure and view as a source of pride in Central Arkansas. As always, we will keep the public informed about our plans and progress as it happens. We thank you again for your investment, trust, and commitment to CALS.