Our Mission

The Central Arkansas Library System provides resources and services to help residents reach their full potential, and to inspire discovery, learning, and cultural expression.

Our Vision

The Central Arkansas Library System is recognized as a leading community institution improving literacy, the exchange of ideas, workforce development, and social engagement.

Our Core Values

  • We offer superior customer service
  • We believe in the freedom to know
  • We respect diverse perspectives and provide access to all
  • We cultivate collaboration and innovation both internally and with external partners
  • We provide an open and respectful workplace
  • We are wise stewards of public resources

Our Strategic Goals

  • Refocus institutional culture to more directly help residents fulfill their needs and potential.
  • Enhance core community-based services, and re-evaluate the scope and depth of collections, to attract new customers and expand audiences.
  • Revitalize existing spaces, and expand access options, to better serve varied customers and communities.
  • Integrate service approaches and management of the resources and facilities at Library Square (outside of the Main Library), and ensure the sustainability of these offerings, to advance the Library’s mission and vision, and the effectiveness and efficiency of the system.
  • Advance marketing to expand use and awareness of the Library, especially by targeted audiences, and to support resource development efforts
  • Increase private and public support of the Library.
  • Develop an organization that fully supports and deploys its resources, both human and material, to best serve our communities.

Our History

In 1975, the Little Rock Public Library’s Board of Trustees and the Trustees of the Pulaski-Perry Regional library agreed to a merger of the libraries in Little Rock, Jacksonville, Sherwood, and Perryville, and the bookmobile services of the Little Rock Public Library and the Regional Library into one library system. The new system adopted the name The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS). The North Little Rock Public Library declined to join the system.

In 1999, the central Arkansas cities and counties comprising CALS’ individual entities initiated a new “Agreement for Joint Cooperative Action” for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining public libraries, and providing library services for the citizens of central Arkansas. In addition to the purposes set forth in the original agreement, the new agreement allows CALS to take full advantage of the revised Interlocal Cooperation Act (Ark. Code Ann. §25-20-201 through 207), makes CALS a Public Corporation, allows CALS to own property, broadens the representation of the parties, gives CALS eminent domain power, and generally expands CALS’ authority.

The Central Arkansas Library System, with its headquarters at the Little Rock Main Library, serves a local population of 402,366 and is the largest public Arkansas library system. Its fourteen libraries are located in the City of Little Rock (Main Little Rock Library and eight branches), Pulaski County (Wrightsville, Jacksonville, Sherwood, and Maumelle, AR), and Perry County (Perryville, AR). The system contains over 1,000,000 items and is the largest research collection in central Arkansas. In 2019, there were 1.8 million visits to Central Arkansas Library System branches, and users checked out over 2.7 million items.


From Carnegie to Cyberspace

From Carnegie to Cyberspace, by Shirley Schuette and Nathania Sawyer

If you would like to learn more about the history of the Central Arkansas Library System, check out From Carnegie to Cyberspace: 100 years at the Central Arkansas Library System, by Shirley Schuette and Nathania Sawyer. Detailing public library efforts from the earliest private lending libraries to today’s 13-branch system, From Carnegie to Cyberspace is the story of how one small public library grew into a major regional system and how its libraries evolved to meet the demands of changing technology and a growing population.

The book also explores the personalities that have helped shape CALS – from Mary Maud Pugsley, its first librarian, to Vera Snook, who “angered every mayor since she had been in Little Rock,” to Dr. Bobby Roberts, who has led the system since 1989 through a period of unprecedented growth.

You may also purchase a copy from Butler Center Books.