A Word from the Roberts Library: Changes and Challenges

In preparing to write this blog post, I decided to review what I’d written over the last three and a half years. It seems that most, if not all, of my posts reflected one change or another at the Roberts Library.

And what changes there have been! I am so proud of the staff of the Roberts Library for their flexibility and stamina throughout the last few years. They have met so many challenges, and so ably.

We will be faced with more in the next couple of years. While the Main Library is renovated, staff and services will move across Rock Street into the first floor of Roberts. Our hours will expand (again!). I predict the noise level in the building will go up, and that our door counters will see much more use. (Read more about the upcoming Main renovations at the Main on the Move blog.)

The three buildings that make up the Roberts Library have seen many different uses and incarnations over the 141 years since the first building was constructed: office furniture store, Jewish social hall, wholesale grocery business, wholesale grocery and liquor distributorship, carriage repository, coffee and spice company, coffee roastery, food brokerage business, and blueprint company. (Read more about the buildings’ history here.)

Computer desks with chairs in research room

Now we’ll be able to add full-service public library to the list. We’ll have a Children’s and Youth area, a computer lab, a circulation department, and a reading room, all spread out on the first floor.

The Butler Center’s Research Room on the second floor will remain open, the Memory Lab on the third floor will be available, and our programs in the CALS branches will be sure to continue. Our friends at the UA Little Rock Downtown space will help us present our monthly Legacies & Lunch on first Wednesdays at noon. We will figure out how to keep taking part in Second Friday Art Night (2FAN). We’ve gotten good at virtual programs these last few years, and those will continue as well.

At the end of this adventure, Little Rock will have a reimagined Main Library to be proud of. In the meantime, don’t forget we’re here, and come visit!


Group of white men and white women smile as their picture is taken.
Sally Browder, David Stricklin, Anna Morshedi, and Don Evans

Also, for the second year, we’re looking forward to reviewing applications for the Stricklin Fellow. 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 is awarded annually; applications for 2023 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.

It’s a great opportunity to use the rich collections housed at the Butler Center/Roberts Library. 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. Get more information here.

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





Butler Banner Archive

The Butler Banner archives between 1999-2018 are available in PDF format only. The Butler Banner was our print newsletter.

> Check out the back issues


We allow certain outlets to reprint our copyrighted Butler Banner or CALS Roberts Library blog posts with express permission. To seek permission, please email Glenn Whaley at gwhaley@cals.org.