A Word from the Roberts Library: New Initiatives in the New Year

What’s next? My soothsayer retired in defeat after the last two years, but I can share a few things I know we’ll be able to count on in the new year:

Projects! As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve received grant funding that will help the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas (EOA) be more accessible, useful, and representative. As part of this, CALS received a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council to add alternative text (or alt text) to the 10,000+ pieces of media on the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas website, as well as the media on both the CALS.org and RobertsLibrary.org sites. Alt text provides a description of solely visual media for website visitors with visual impairments as well as people with slow internet speed. Alt text can be used by screen readers, allowing the user to get a complete experience of the website. We have hired staff to create the text and therefore allow previously unserved patrons full access to our sites. They’re already making great progress. This grant funding was made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and the project will be supported in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

We also received a large grant directly from the National Endowment for the Humanities that will allow us to retain the EOA’s staff historian, who fact checks both entries and suggested corrections and helps us create outreach activities directed toward educators and library patrons. These funds will also help us provide stipends to contributors who write EOA entries. Finally, this money will support crucial and overdue improvements to the EOA’s digital platform. All these improvements will lead to a more efficient workflow for EOA staff, enabling them to spend more time on outreach activities to further expand the utility and reach of the encyclopedia. Funding has been provided to the Central Arkansas Library System from the NEH as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The NEH is committed to Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP).

Outreach! Our Research Services Division will be doing more outreach similar to our popular Downtown Mapping Project and Lost West Ninth Street ProjectWood frame houses with car parked in driveway.. We are looking for someone to fill a new position, a Community Outreach Archivist. This will be a demanding role, but we’re so excited about the opportunity to spread the good word about our collections and the work we do. If you know of an archivist with lots of creativity (or if you are one), please visit the Employment Opportunities page on the CALS website and check out the job description for this exciting position.

Programs! Stay tuned for information about the programs we have planned to present to you in the new year. We’ll be honoring Black History Month and Women’s History Month with special evening events. Don’t miss our regular monthly series, Legacies & Lunch, on the first Wednesday of the month at noon. Rhonda Stewart will continue to help you get started on your family’s genealogy with Finding Family Facts on the second Monday of the month at 3:30. Keep an eye out for registration information for all these events, as they’re still offered virtually.

I’m looking forward to a great 2022—and to hearing from you so we can make it better and better together.

Happy New Year,

GW

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

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