A Word from the Roberts Library by Glenn Whaley

You last heard from me just as I was moving my office one door over and taking the position of manager of the CALS Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art. It’s been a busy three months, and there’s plenty to share with you as we start a brand-new year.

The year 2019 by the numbers: 

More than 43,000 people visited the newly redesigned Butler Center/Roberts Library website. While there, they looked at almost 100,000 items. Our Arkansas Vietnam War Project digital collection was viewed 4,500 times, and our digital collection A Nation Divided: Arkansas and the Civil War was viewed 8,300 times.

In almost 1.5 million sessions, 1.2 million users looked at 2.8 million pages of the newly redesigned CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

We had over 7,000 people join us in the Galleries at Library Square for Second Friday Art Nights to view opening exhibitions, hear live music, shop in our retail gallery, and enjoy refreshments. In all, 150,000 people came through the Roberts Library’s doors over the year. A total of 18,000 patrons attended one of our 163 programs.

In 2020, we have plenty planned to keep you busy!

As part of our education and research outreach efforts, we’re involved in a project called the Memory Lab Network. It’s funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the District of Columbia Public Library. As a partner, we’ll receive training, mentoring, and financial support to create digitization stations for CALS patrons to use in a “do-it-yourself” program for digitizing video and audio and scanning photographs, documents, and slides. In addition to access at the Roberts Library, we’ll be bringing some of this effort to a CALS branch near you, so get ready to clean out that attic and find those home movies!

Dorris Alexander (Dee) Brown from Stephens (Ouachita County)—librarian, historian, and bestselling author; circa 1978; photo by Charles Ellis.

We received a grant from the Division of Arkansas Heritage, and we’ll use those funds to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, written by Arkansas native Dee Brown. (The New York Times described the work of nonfiction as “a grim, revisionist tale of the ruthless mistreatment and eventual displacement of the Indian by white conquerors from 1860 to 1890.”) The CALS Butler Center holds Brown’s manuscripts collection, so we’ll use those materials to create an online exhibition to share with you. We’ll host public presentations by Elliott West, a specialist in the history of the American West, and Paul DeMain, who was involved in several investigative projects involving the American Indian Movement; screen the HBO film of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; and mount an exhibition of art and artifacts reflecting the Native American tribes included in the book.

The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is about to hit another milestone–6,000 entries. There are about fifteen more entries to go before we find out which entry will be #6,000! Follow the progress on the CALS EOA Facebook page.

You can find our regular programs Legacies & Lunch and Finding Family Facts both at Library Square and on the road, repeating in one of the CALS branches each month. Watch our events calendar for upcoming programs.

In with the new! Last year, we re-designed the Roberts Library website, the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas website, and the Butler Banner (now this blog). Please let us know what you think of our changes. We’re open to your insights and suggestions.

Until next time,





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