Library, Neighbor, Family

Central Arkansas Library System’s Sue Cowan Williams Library is located in the heart of Little Rock’s Historic Dunbar Neighborhood. Each year, thousands of visitors, many of whom are students at Dunbar Middle School, walk through its doors seeking friendly faces in familiar, welcoming spaces. In November 2023, Williams Library closed for extensive renovations, including a kitchen, makerspace, podcasting rooms, and teen center. The library is set to reopen in April, and CALS is hosting three events to celebrate the Grand Reopening: a Ribbon Cutting, a free Block Party, and a Family Dinner Night inspired by an existing Williams Library program.

Branch Manager Latina Sheard has worked at CALS for over 20 years and has served as the manager of Williams Library since 2006. She conceptualized Family Dinner Night to connect with younger patrons and their families. Research shows that family meals offer a wide variety of physical, social-emotional, and academic benefits (e.g., lower risk of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and an increased chance of graduating from high school).

This program helps teach kids and teens essential life skills while fostering a sense of camaraderie and gives many of them the opportunity to interact with adults outside of their relatives.

The Williams Library transcends being just a structure; it stands as an integral and dynamic part of the community.

Follow the progress of the renovation on our Work at Williams blog.

Reopening Celebrations


Family Dinner Night

A twist on a Williams Library program, this taste of the neighborhood will feature food from nearby local restaurants, drinks, and music and offer a first look at the renovated library. Tickets are $75 per person. Sponsorship options are also available. Register today to save your seat!

Proceeds will benefit Williams Library programs and activities, including Family Dinner Nights.

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Ribbon Cutting

Join us for the library’s official reopening day. More details to come!

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Neighborhood Block Party

The free community block party will reintroduce the library to the community with tours, demonstrations, music, and food trucks.

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CALS Sue Cowan Williams Library

Sue Cowan Williams displayed courage in 1942 by challenging unequal salaries for African American teachers in the segregated Little Rock School District. Despite an initial court ruling against her, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis eventually reversed the decision, marking a significant victory in the milestone lawsuit, Morris v. Williams. Williams faced retaliation, losing her teaching contract at the end of the 1942-43 school year. Her lawsuit played a pivotal role in galvanizing the African American community’s engagement with civil rights, strengthening the NAACP in Arkansas. Reinstated in 1952, Williams taught at Dunbar until her retirement in 1974. A prominent figure in various organizations, she passed away on May 31, 1994, leaving a lasting legacy in the fight for equal rights.

The tenth library in the Central Arkansas Library System, dedicated on March 22, 1997, honors Williams. Located near the historic Dunbar High School building in downtown Little Rock, where Williams taught, the Sue Cowan Williams Library continues her legacy.