Shirley Schuette and Nathania Sawyer

In January of 1906, city councilmen paid attention as Mrs. T. T. Cotnam told them in no uncertain terms that “the women of the city are not going to rest until they have secured this public library.” Four years later—with the help of the Carnegie Foundation—the Little Rock Public Library opened its doors to the public.

From this modest beginning, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) has become, in many ways, an innovative model for the rest of the nation. Now, CALS is celebrating its 100th year of library service, and Butler Center Books joins the celebration by publishing From Carnegie to Cyberspace: A Centennial Celebration of the Central Arkansas Library System by Shirley Schuette and Nathania Sawyer.

Detailing public library efforts from the earliest private lending libraries to today’s 13-branch system, From Carnegie to Cyberspace is the story of how one small public library grew into a major regional system and how its libraries evolved to meet the demands of changing technology and a growing population.

The book also explores the personalities that have helped shape CALS—from Mary Maud Pugsley, its first librarian, to Vera Snook, who “angered every mayor since she had been in Little Rock,” to Dr. Bobby Roberts, who has led the system since 1989 through a period of unprecedented growth.

“Through good times and bad during these past ten decades ,” notes Bob Razer, editor of the Pulaski Country Historical Review and longtime CALS staff member, “the library and the people who worked there have shown grit, dedication, and a determination to do more with less.”

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 at CALS. Sawyer is associate head of the Butler Center and 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.

160 pages, 8.5” x 11”, index, 120 photos
$29.95 cloth | ISBN 978-1-935106-14-2 (10-digit 1-935106-14-7)