A Word from the Roberts Library

Yes, it is Roberts Library Manager Glenn Whaley under that mask!

As you may have heard, all CALS facilities have been closed to the public since March 14. It’s a situation none of us anticipated and one in which we’re continually learning as we go. Much will be written in the days to come about this transition to the “new normal,” probably far more eloquently than what I’ll be able to offer. But I’ll do my best!

I’m grateful for many things today. As much as things have changed, most of us still have roofs and warm beds and clothes and food and refrigeration. We have utility companies that won’t shut off power or heat or water if we can’t pay the bill. We have grocery stores and restaurants that will bring our purchases to our cars or give us the option of using delivery services so there will be less risk of spreading the disease.

And many of us have the internet. With it, I have been able to communicate every day, in real time, with my far-flung family and friends as well as with CALS staff. With it, you’re reading this. With it, we’ve learned the best ways to keep our social distance, how to sew masks, how to pass the time, and also the impact this virus will have on our lives now and in months and years to come.

At the Roberts Library we are still working, mostly from home. Our current focus is to learn how best to provide you with programs and services as we have always tried to do. Right now, that is primarily over the internet. Watch for our emails that send you links to digitized versions of some of our collections and other online resources. Along with our social media channels, such as Facebook, the CALS YouTube Channel has a wealth of options for patrons of Roberts Library and CALS as a whole. For instance, Roberts Library Outreach Coordinator Heather Zbinden has presented virtual programming on Personal Archiving as part of our Memory Lab project (view it here). And a virtual Legacies & Lunch we offered in early April is here. YouTube also has a session of Finding Family Facts focusing on genealogy basics.

Speaking of genealogy, we’re very excited that Ancestry.com has allowed us to offer its Library Edition to CALS cardholders to use at home as long as our buildings are closed to patrons. Normally this service is free to patrons only when used in CALS facilities. Email calsinfo@cals.org with your name and library card barcode for instructions. We will verify that you have a CALS account in good standing and then will provide instructions for how to access this resource. When CALS reopens to the public, this resource will no longer be available for at-home use.

If you have research or genealogy questions for Roberts Library staff, either email arkinfo@cals.org or call (501) 320-5700 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday–Saturday. Staff will try to help.

Roberts Library staff member Jasmine Jobe is leading a 13-week creative writing course based on Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way; it is free but registration is required. Our Instagram feed is packed with images and creativity from the Galleries at Library Square. It’s exciting to explore these new ways to serve you.

The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas has barely missed a step because, as you know, it is a digital resource. The staff has been doing what it always does: adding new material to the site while updating entries and contemplating new ways to improve the website and engage with readers. Visit the CALS EOA here: https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/ For some search tips and other information, watch this short video here. And follow the EOA’s Facebook page for new entries and other interesting Arkansas history tidbits

We’ll have a new book out soon from Butler Center Books: OUTSPOKEN: The Olly Neal Story by Olly Neal Jr., as told to Jan Wrede. Information and preorder details are here: https://www.uapress.com/product/outspoken/.

As part of its limited in-person services, CALS continues to offer food to children and families at several of our branches. We are also offering concierge and curbside service at many locations. Check the CALS website for up-to-date information on everything CALS is offering during the stressful and uncertain time.

We miss seeing you! At this writing, we plan to be closed to the public until May 11. All programs have also been suspended until May 11. No fines will be assessed for not picking up holds. Due dates have been extended, so overdue fines will not accrue. Please do not return items to outdoor bookdrops. For more information, please email calsinfo@cals.org.

Please take care of yourself, stay home for now, wash your hands, keep six feet away from each other, don’t touch your face, and stay well. I look forward to working with each of you for a long time!

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

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