From Carnegie to Cyberspace


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About this book

“The women of the city are not going to rest until they have secured this public library.”

—Mrs. T. T. Cotnam, speaking at a city council meeting, Little Rock, Arkansas, January 1906


Public libraries are deeply rooted in our national heritage, and one of the country’s best examples is the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS). From its earliest days as a private lending library, CALS has developed into a strong advocate of literacy and continuing education as the cornerstones of an informed citizenry. This is the story of how one small library grew into a major regional system, how its libraries evolved to meet the demands of changing technology and a growing population, and how, in many ways, it became a model for the rest of the nation.


This book also explores the personalities that have helped shape CALS—from Vera Snook, who began a twenty-two-year career as librarian of the Little Rock Public Library in 1926, to the current director, Dr. Bobby Roberts, who has led the system through a period of unprecedented growth since becoming its director in 1989. From Carnegie to Cyberspace shows how this system has grown, adapted, and innovated its way through a century of public service.

About the authors

Shirley Schuette has a master’s degree in public history from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and works as a manuscripts assistant at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock.


Nathania Sawyer is associate head of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock and the senior editor of the Butler Center’s Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


Distributed for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.