A Word from the Roberts Library: Blowing Our Horn!

It’s been an exciting season at the Central Arkansas Library System and at the CALS Roberts Library. We have received some accolades and are revving up some programs that have been incubating for a while.

Annual Report: First, if you’d like to review last year’s accomplishments at CALS, check out CALS’s 2021 Annual Report. It provides a snapshot of last year, including statistical and budget information, project and event highlights, and a lot more.

Box of old papers and photographsIn the Works: Our Memory Lab program has been more than two years in the making. CALS’s executive director, Nate Coulter, discussed it in a guest editorial in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in January 2022. He said, “The Central Arkansas Library System believes stories are critical to libraries and living. CALS received a grant from the D.C. Public Library and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a DIY Memory Lab that we hope will help preserve more ‘private libraries.’

“Our Memory Lab will help patrons digitize their photographs, slides, and other two-dimensional materials. We will help patrons convert VHS, Beta, and audio cassettes from analog to digital.”

The equipment for the Memory Lab is being set up on the third floor of the Roberts Library. Once patrons have had some very basic training, they can make a reservation and use the lab on a do-it-yourself basis. Be on the lookout for our announcements for the grand opening!

For more information, see https://robertslibrary.org/memorylab/

David Stricklin Research Fellowship: We’re looking forward to greeting the first Stricklin Fellow this summer. This program has been established in honor of retired CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies director David Stricklin in recognition of his many contributions to the Butler Center, CALS, and the community. The fellowship will be awarded annually; applications for 2022 are being accepted now through May 1.

The fellowship is set up to help researchers reduce any financial hardship they might have while doing research in the CALS Butler Center manuscript collections. Anyone is welcome to apply—it is not necessary to be enrolled in a degree program. The award has a maximum cash value of $1,000. Allowable costs include travel, lodging, and a limited stipend.

I am so pleased to be able to find ways to promote the use of the rich collections housed at the Butler Center. David’s strong leadership will continue to affect our work for years to come. Thanks to the generosity of David’s friends and colleagues, we are able to honor his legacy in this manner. For more information, see https://robertslibrary.org/david-stricklin-research-fellowship/

Now, to the self-congratulatory part!

Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize: You may have heard that the Central Arkansas Library System won the 2021 Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize (and its accompanying $250,000 grant!). It highlights CALS as one of the best among a number of amazing public libraries across the country. Central Arkansas can be genuinely proud of the commitment it makes to sustain its library. For us at the library, we are grateful for the honor and the support of other local agencies that collaborate with CALS. We also know that with this award comes the responsibility of maintaining our focus on serving the community in whatever ways we can. We promise to strive to continue to meet the standards of excellence reflected in the Kline Community Impact Prize.

IMLS Medal: And we just heard that we are one of thirty finalists for the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service (IMLS). It is a tremendous honor to be nominated for this award; according to the IMLS press release, “The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities.” National Medal winners will be announced the first week of June, so stay tuned. We’re just happy to be nominated!

Millage Rate Reduction: Finally, if you live in Little Rock, don’t forget to go to the polls on May 24—it’s a chance to reduce your millage rate! Voters will be asked to reduce the capital-improvement millage in Little Rock from 1.8 to 1.3 mills. When Little Rock voters were asked to approve an increase in the library’s operational millage in November 2021, we were hopeful that we would have the opportunity to reduce the capital-improvement millage this year. If the 0.5-mill reduction passes, CALS will be able to refinance bonds—which will lower property taxes but generate money for projects like a bookmobile and improvements to library spaces.

Till next time,


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









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