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Welcome to the Arkansas Library Association

ArLA has supported Arkansas’ academic, public, school, and special libraries for more than 100 years. In that time, we established a state library commission, began an association publication, established salary guidelines, supported the continuing education of librarians, and protected intellectual freedom.

We hope you join us in further supporting libraries and the library profession.

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2020 ArLA Virtual Conference

An online event to be held October 15-16, 2020. Enjoy keynote speakers include Margaret Verble and Ted Quiballo as well as education programs and networking opportunities.

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Arkansas Library Association
P.O. Box 3821
Little Rock, AR 72203

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  • 29 Jun 2020 3:26 PM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    The Pandemic Response Committee will be conducting three open forums to talk about re-opening our libraries.  ArLA division chairs for CULD, ArASL, and Public Libraries will be hosting the forums which will take place on the dates listed below.  ALL are welcome – we’re encouraging participation from all library workers, not just those who are members of ArLA, and not just directors or other leaders.  We need a free exchange of ideas and welcome all library workers to take part.  Our division chairs will be gathering up topics of discussion – so please feel free to send what you’d like to discuss their way. 

    Here are the dates to put on your calendars:

    Public Libraries (Host Chair Carol Coffey):  Wednesday, July 8, 2020 – 2-3 pm

    Academic/Special Libraries (Host Vice-Chair Brent Etzel):  Wednesday, July 15, 2020 – 2-3 pm

    School Libraries (Host Chair Rachel Shankles):  Wednesday, July 29, 2020 – 2-3 pm

  • 25 Jun 2020 10:21 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    Jennifer Chilcoat has been named the next director of the Arkansas State Library. Chilcoat, the current deputy director, replaces Carolyn Ashcraft, who is retiring July 1.

    Chilcoat brings 30 years of library experience to the position, including 28 years at Arkansas public libraries. She has served as the deputy director of the Arkansas State Library since August 2018, where she oversees the Library Development Department, the Information Services Department, and the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. Chilcoat also has served as the library’s state data coordinator for Arkansas and has spearheaded statewide efforts to maximize the power of libraries in achieving a complete count for the 2020 Census.

    “When I hired Jennifer as my deputy director in 2018, it was with the understanding that I was looking to retire in a couple of years,” Ashcraft said. “She has been like a sponge, soaking up as much information as possible, learning about state government and our agency, and preparing for the opportunity to be the next state librarian. There will be a time of transition, but I know she has the skills necessary to lead our agency into this next decade.”

    Before joining the staff at the State Library, Chilcoat spent 28 years at the Central Arkansas Library System, where she served in various capacities, such as a reference librarian, branch manager, head of human resources, construction coordinator, and interim deputy director.

    “The move from CALS to the Arkansas State Library was natural for me because I get energized by empowering other librarians to do their best work,” Chilcoat said. “At ASL, I get to empower librarians around the entire state, not just those in my local community. Now, as director of the agency, I can ensure that the issues we face in our state are heard on the national stage.”

    Chilcoat earned bachelor’s degrees in English and German, as well as a Master of Science in Library and Information Science, from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She currently coordinates a Parenting of Teens class at Second Presbyterian Church and serves as an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America Troop 30, both in Little Rock.

  • 24 Jun 2020 10:11 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    On June 30, 2020 Carolyn Ashcraft will retire from her position as the State Librarian at the Arkansas State Library. Ashcraft has served as State Librarian since 2005. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the Arkansas State Library is hosting a virtual reception via Zoom on Thursday, June 25 from 1 – 3 pm to honor her upcoming retirement.

    Under Ashcraft’s leadership, the Arkansas State Library emphasized the importance of adapting traditional library services to take full advantage of emerging technologies. This approach helped facilitate the transition of Arkansas’ 230 public libraries into the digital era. Notable accomplishments toward this goal include the creation of an E-Rate Coordinator position, a significant expansion of the Traveler Statewide Digital Resource Program, and support of new resource sharing programs like the Arkansas Digital Library Consortium.

    Ashcraft has been active in a number of state and national professional associations throughout her career, including the American Association of Retired Persons Arkansas Executive Council, American Library Association, Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Arkansas Distance Learning Coordinating Council, Arkansas Library Association, Association for Rural and Small Libraries, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, Connect Arkansas and the Institute of Museum and Library Services Library Statistics Working Group.

    She maintains a near-encyclopedic knowledge of libraries, librarians, and library history. At any Arkansas Library Association Conference, she can typically be seen sitting in a chair, perhaps in a lobby or reception area, holding forth to a rapt audience with tales of interesting librarians, library patrons, politicians, and other notable figures. Her retirement will leave a huge void in Arkansas’ library community, a void that will affect not only librarians but Arkansas’ citizens.

    Ashcraft served in the Library Development unit until 2004, first as a Program Advisor and then as the unit Coordinator. Ashcraft was promoted to Deputy Director in 2004, and later selected as the State Librarian in 2005 following the retirement of Jack Mulkey.

  • 3 Jun 2020 1:39 PM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    We Stand Together

    by Crystal Gates
    ArLA President

    The Arkansas Library Association stands with library workers, with library users, and with the communities we serve who encounter and are subjected to acts of prejudice, threats of violence, and discrimination based solely on their race or ethnicity. The pervasive racism present in our society stifles equitable access and serves as a barrier to everything that libraries stand for. In most instances, libraries are neutral and do not enter into the world of politics. However, this is not politics. There is no neutral ground. There is no debate. Safety, basic freedoms, and having a voice is a human right. 

    We, as an Association, and I, as your colleague and friend, commend you for serving our communities during these tumultuous times. Arkansas libraries are providing resources, creating booklists, promoting social discussion, and supporting those who depend on us as a safe place to engage and as the authority of open, factual information. I urge all Arkansas libraries and library workers to build a work and community culture that accepts and embraces all people, in the way that best meets the needs of your individual communities. Ideas for changing the culture from deep within may include new booklists, new programs, new hiring practices, and more - and making those changes for good, not just for today, but for our future.

  • 2 Jun 2020 9:43 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)
    ArLA Members can now download membership cards from the ArLA Website at You need to be logged into the ArLA Website, in order to access. There are options to print your card or use it on your smartphone. 
  • 22 Apr 2020 7:15 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    The Arkansas Library Association continues to monitor the evolving landscape surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on group gatherings. In light of the predicted resurgence of the virus during the next fifteen months, and in consideration of the travel restrictions impacting the library community, ArLA has decided to move the annual conference originally scheduled to be held in Ft. Smith to an online environment. The virtual conference will be held Thursday, October 15, and Friday, October 16, in order to provide the best opportunity for all participants to have access to the necessary technology.

    “When choosing the theme of the 2020 Annual Conference, a pandemic and its cascading effect was not in sight,” shared Crystal Gates, ArLA President. Yet, Charting New Waters is even more appropriate as ArLA moves to a virtual conference. Gates continued, “Moving to an online environment offers ArLA the opportunity to meet its members where they are, to push the boundaries of traditional programming, and to encourage participation and collaboration in a meaningful way.” ArLA looks forward to offering the same vibrant programming and new opportunities for impactful connection. The virtual conference will continue to include sessions, workshops, keynotes, and a space to connect, including connections with sponsors, vendors, and programmers. In addition to the live sessions, attendees will have access to on-demand recordings. Moving from a face-to-face conference to an online environment offers members and the Association an opportunity to grow -- to chart new waters. 

    We look forward to you joining us on this new journey. The link to attendee registration is

  • 21 Apr 2020 9:39 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    Each year the Arkansas Library Association presents a variety of awards and prizes in recognition of the dedicated service of our Arkansas librarians and their achievements.  These awards are usually given during an awards dinner held at the annual ArLA conference.  However, because of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, this year's conference will be presented virtually.  The awards process is managed by the Arkansas Library Association Awards Committee.  This committee solicits nominations, reviews, and selects award recipients.  Nominations for the Arkansas Library Association Awards are now open.  The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2020.  Please consider nominating a co-worker or colleague for one of the awards using the nomination form located here:, where you will also find the awards criteria. We hope you will enjoy nominating one of your co-workers or colleagues!

  • 20 Mar 2020 8:36 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    Here is a message from Crystal Gates, ArLA President regarding Arkansas Libraries and COVID-19:


  • 19 Feb 2020 11:23 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)

    Association of Christian Librarians annual conference will be  June 8-11, 2020.  This year's conference is being held at Newman University in Wichita, KS.  For more information, checkout their LibGuide at

  • 8 Jan 2019 8:56 AM | Ronald Russ (Administrator)
    ARKLIB-L is an online mailing list for those interested in Arkansas Libraries and related topics. It is free and open to the public. It has also been used to disseminate information to ArLA Members. For more information and to sign up, go to You can also use that page for maintaining your subscription.

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