2022 at the Roberts Library: Making Connections and Expanding Options

Another year is slipping out the door, and I’m proud of all that we at the CALS Roberts Library have to show for these past months.

Painting of multistory Central Arkansas Library System building on city street corner

The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is stronger than ever. Stay tuned for our countdown to our 7,000th entry added to the website. Much work has been done this past year on the site itself to make it more user friendly and accessible, including improving its search functions, sprucing up its media presentation, including alt text with every photo to aid those with visual impairments, adding translation software and translating time-period entries into Spanish, and updating content such as county overviews. These upgrades are the results of the staff’s arduous work coupled with supporting funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Arkansas Humanities Council.

white man and black woman looking at large colorful globe artwork with trees and sidewalk surrounding it
Art Administrator Colin Thompson with Shya Washington-Webb, Branch Manager at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center, looking at the relocated globe sculpture.

Our art program is also strong. Coordinated by our art administrator, Colin Thompson, exhibitions have sprung up all over the CALS system, not just in the galleries in the Roberts Library (but there are several there, too!). Most recently we coordinated the loan of one of the Cool Globes from the Clinton Presidential Center to the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center: Earth: The Nectar of Life, by artist Lakresha Diaz. In addition, the artwork of children’s book author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers will be on display at the Children’s Library through December 29. CALS was proud to open this exhibition as part of the annual Six Bridges Book Festival.

The staff of the Roberts Library’s Research Services Division, led by Brian Robertson, has continued producing innovative programs as well, including digitizing materials and creating digital collections and projects that anyone can view from home on a computer or phone. Our community outreach archivist, Danielle Afsordeh, has been presenting programs in a variety of branches in the system. Most recently she led a program at the Fletcher Library about how to do research on your historic home using resources found in the Roberts Library Research Room or online through the Arkansas Studies Research Portal.

Scanner on desk with computer next to it.
Scanner at the DIY Memory Lab, 3rd floor, Roberts Library

The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies hosted a very successful genealogy workshop in early October, which brought in Lori Thornton, a nationally known expert on southern family historical and religious research. The free event was a hybrid one, allowing patrons to participate in person at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater as well as online over Zoom. We’ve also been doing our monthly Legacies & Lunch lectures as hybrid events, with attendees choosing to come to the Roberts Library (free cookies and drinks!) or access the event remotely.

I could keep going on about our events and offerings, such as our Finding Family Facts classes, our Personal Archiving instruction, and our newly opened Memory Lab, just to name a few, but this blog, our website, and our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter are great ways to keep up with all we’re doing. Be sure to check in often, before even more time slips away.

Happy Holidays! I hope to see you soon.


by Glenn Whaley, manager of the CALS Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art






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