A Word from the Roberts Library: Getting the Spring Back in Our Step

The last time I wrote was on January 5. I was full of hope that day that turning over the calendar page would put the negatives of 2020 behind us and all would be positive and rosy in 2021.

Alysanne Crymes, cataloguer at the Roberts Library, and Jasmine Jobe, editorial assistant at the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas, getting their vaccines at a staff-wide clinic earlier this month.

The events in Washington DC the next day told us all that we weren’t on a direct path to that. I do believe that we’ll be better off at the end of 2021 than we were at the beginning, but it won’t be a smooth ride. The rollout of the vaccine caused some confusion and a bit of chaos, but I think the systems are functioning fairly well now as we head into springtime.

Earlier this month, Governor Hutchinson added librarians to the list of essential workers who were eligible to receive the vaccine, and over a third of CALS staff has received at least one dose. While CALS policy will continue to require vigilance regarding mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing, it feels safer in our spaces already. While no decision has been made, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to begin offering in-person programming sometime in the next few months.

In the meantime, CALS Roberts Library staff and the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas continue to provide popular virtual programs, which you can watch live or archived on our CALS YouTube channel. February was full of Black History Month offerings, and we’ve focused on Women’s History this month, with our Monday Matriarchs series. Although we could not hold our annual day-long genealogy workshop last summer, a well-received program featuring Juliana Szucs of Ancestry.com was held on March 20. More virtual genealogy workshops are coming along with our monthly Finding Family Facts presentations by our own local history and genealogy specialist Rhonda Stewart.

Author Roxane Gay in Coleman hall on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, on January 31, 2014. (photo by Jay Grabiec)

In cooperation with CALS’s Six Bridges Book Festival, on April 29 the Betsey Wright Distinguished Lecture Series will present Roxane Gay, an author and cultural critic whose writing is unmatched and widely revered. Her work garners international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism, trauma, and social criticism. With a deft eye on modern culture, she brilliantly critiques its ebb and flow with both wit and ferocity. Register for the free online event here.

Glenn Whaley and Betsey Wright in the CALS Ron Robinson Theater for the inaugural Betsey Wright Distinguished Lecture; November 2016.

The Betsey Wright Distinguished Lecture series honors Wright, who in the 1970s founded and served as executive director of the National Women’s Education Fund, a Washington-based organization that promoted women’s political participation and trained women candidates across the country. She later spent thirteen years working for then-Governor Bill Clinton as his chief of staff, campaign manager, and deputy chairman of his 1992 campaign for president. The lecture series focuses on topics of special interest to Wright, such as women’s issues, politics, justice, or labor history.

Please join us at our virtual programs, make plans to come do a little genealogical research, pick up some art or a used book in the Galleries at Library Square (perfect gifts for Mother’s Day!), and see our current art exhibitions.

We miss you!

G

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

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