The EOA at 16: We’re Taking the Wheel!

“I am sixteen, going on seventeen…” sings the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas in its best Rodgers and Hammerstein Sound of Music teenager voice.

Watch out on the roads—we’re old enough to DRIVE!

Born (as in launched to the public as a work in progress—aren’t we all works in progress?) on May 2, 2006, the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the only state encyclopedia in the country to be produced by a library system. The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas strives to offer a definitive, comprehensive, and accurate record of America’s twenty-fifth state.

The mission of this free online encyclopedia is to collect and disseminate information on all aspects of the state’s history and culture and to provide a comprehensive reference work for historians, teachers, students, and others seeking to understand and appreciate Arkansas’s heritage.

At “birth,” the EOA had approximately 700 entries and 900 pieces of media; as of 2022, the site offers nearly 7,000 entries and more than 11,000 pieces of media.

As a toddler, the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas received the 2009 Diamond Award from the Arkansas Historical Association, and in 2013, as an elementary schooler, the mobile version of the website received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. That same year, the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas was named a Notable Government Document of 2012 by the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association.

Users have come from every continent (including Antarctica) and more than 230 countries (including territories and autonomous provinces). During its first month online, the infant CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas had about 47,000 visits; the teenage EOA now receives more than 1.6 million visits each year.

When we’re not cruising around the state, steering wheel in one hand as we fix our hair and perfect our brooding face in the rearview, we’re putting more entries and media on the site, adding alt-text to help our users with visual impairments access our media better, improving some website features, and working on translating our entries into languages other than English—all before our midnight curfew with the car unscratched. We promise.

Help us celebrate our Sweet Sixteen by contributing to our college fund here.




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