As the state's largest free-standing facility dedicated to the study of Arkansas, the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art houses the following: exhibition and retail art galleries and a gently read bookstore that make up the Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square, a world-class genealogy and archival research room, the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas, and a number of public meeting spaces. The building, which is itself a historical timeline that features architecture from three centuries and displays image panels inside and outside featuring Arkansans throughout history, is open to the public for shopping, art viewing, and research.
The Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square offer two retail galleries that feature work by over 50 Arkansas artists. Their work includes ceramics, glass, jewelry, mixed media, paintings, sculpture, and wood. Three additional gallery spaces feature rotating exhibitions also by local artists. Works from the Central Arkansas Library System’s permanent art collection are also displayed regularly.
The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, along with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture, cares for and makes accessible to the public more than 10 million documents and photographs on Arkansas history. Using these materials in the 2nd floor Research Room in the Roberts Library, students, genealogists, and anyone interested in Arkansas history can learn more about the people, places, and events that form the state's past and guide its future. The archival collections include items related to the Civil War, Arkansas governors and first families, the Japanese American internment camps located in southeastern Arkansas during World War II, and life in Central Arkansas over the generations. Researchers can also view the rotating historical exhibits that highlight items from the CALS Butler Center’s manuscript collection and then spend the day delving into the extensive collection of genealogy books. All levels of genealogy researchers can explore their family history in the Research Room using CALS’s subscription to Ancestry.com and other databases. Highly trained genealogists, historians, librarians, and archivists can help researchers get started on their journey or find creative ways to move past a family history roadblock.Stop by the CALS Roberts Library to explore our galleries, pick up a piece of one-of-a-kind art or a book, or to find your roots!