A Day in the Life: Bonus Saturday at the Roberts Library Research Room

We have one main goal: to connect you with the information you are searching for.

A visit to the reference desk in the Research Room of the CALS Roberts Library grants you access to a collection of materials housed in this space, held by the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Center for Arkansas History and Culture. In this space, you can begin the process of researching. The staff is there to assist you as you dive in, helping you find information, photographs, or maps relative to your topic. We are mostly open during the week, but we offer a couple of “bonus Saturdays” each month from noon to 4:00 p.m. for patrons who need weekend availability.

The following is a series of snapshots of what topics people explored on one cold Saturday afternoon in January:

A patron comes in researching a house fire around Thanksgiving in 1937 in a small town in the state of Indiana. A simple Google search allows us to pinpoint a possible article in a local newspaper. We suggest he contact the local library in Indiana and request a copy of the article because he has a date and name of the paper. While he is in our space, we share with him the location of the genealogical books we have specific to the state of Indiana. He is impressed that we have this collection. He takes the opportunity to use the library subscription to databases like Ancestry.com to continue his work on his family tree.

Another patron is researching a graduate of Catholic High School in Little Rock. The graduate is currently co-owner of a National Football League team that is in a position to advance to the Super Bowl game in February. Yearbooks, city directories, and census records expanded the researcher’s knowledge about this individual concerning the family’s connection to the community.

A patron is re-igniting her research into her family’s early arrival in 1600s America. We begin with the book From Ulster to Carolina sitting on our shelves, along with at least a half dozen other books on the topic. She mentions she is researching the surname Brownlow. We happen to have a book specific to the surname in our collection. She leaves with pieces to her puzzle she did not previously have and suggestions of databases she can access from home through our library that she had not been aware of.

Nathan Hale Elementary School in Brickeys, Arkansas, is the topic another patron is researching. A county history does not include information on this school, and written resources that are available in a user-friendly source for research in this area are limited. An expanded look may uncover some minor details. Titles in our collection that may shed light on this topic include Historical and Current Issues in Racial Integration in the Public Schools of Arkansas by Jack Quentin Reynolds, Statistical Summary for the Public Schools of Arkansas, and Annual Statistical Report of the Public Schools of Arkansas.

Genealogy in the state of Massachusetts is the topic of another patron. We share with him some of the materials on our shelves, including Genealogical Notes, or Contributions to the Family History of Some of the First Settlers of Connecticut and Massachusetts and President John Sanford of Boston, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and Descendants With Many Allied Families, 1605-1965.

A frequent visitor comes in to browse county historical journals.

Some people come in just to read (although Research Room materials are non-circulating and cannot be checked out, many items are also available digitally). Researchers also frequently find what they are looking for on online encyclopedias, including the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas, or databases available through CALS—available on our Research Room computers or in many cases from patrons’ homes.

Our materials are to be shared. We want to assist you with the information needed to complete branches on your family tree, record the story of your community, or highlight an event in your hometown. We have all the evidence needed to show Arkansas’s impact on the nation and the world. Come see us on a “bonus Saturday” or during the week from Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visiting information can be found here.

By Rhonda Stewart, Genealogy/Local History Specialist, CALS Roberts Library

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