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The Arkansas State Library (ASL) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the state agency charged with the task of administering state and federal funds for Arkansas libraries and their development. The library also offers library services to the public and provides administration and leadership to improve public libraries and library services. The director of the agency has the title of state librarian.
The Arkansas State Library was founded by the Arkansas Library Commission. This commission was established by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1935 through Act 139. However, state funds for operation were not provided until 1937. The ASL became a division in the Arkansas Department of Education through Act 489 in 1979. This transition allowed for the duties of the library to go through the State Library Board instead of the Arkansas Library Commission. The board consists of seven members who meet quarterly. The ASL also receives funding from a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, distributing some of this funding to other smaller libraries and organizations.
The library initially had trouble finding a permanent location. In its first four decades, the library was located in various places in Little Rock, including the War Memorial Building, the third floor of the Arkansas State Capitol, and the Wrape Building. Eventually, plans were established for a permanent location. The specifications for the new building were established by Act 1223 of 1975. The building, located behind the Arkansas State Capitol, was designed to include the Arkansas Library Commission, the Arkansas History Commission (now the Arkansas State Archives), and other state agencies. The “Big Mac” Building was finished in August 1978; the ASL occupied a 63,000-square-foot area on the fifth floor. In 2010, the ASL moved to its current location at 900 West Capitol Avenue. The library consists of a first and second floor with a total of 65,838 square feet.
Throughout the years, the ASL has accumulated a collection of 2.6 million items, including reference materials, federal and state documents, state newspapers, state regulations, and a patent and trademark collection. Collections focused on Arkansas include books about Arkansas history and its people, information published by or for the Arkansas government, and rules and regulations of Arkansas state agencies. The majority of the Arkansas collections have a limited circulation period. Together, all the various collections allow the library to act as a resource center for state agencies.
The ASL offers free online resources to all Arkansans. These include an online catalog, mobile access to ASL collections, an “ask a librarian” feature, RAISE (Resource Assistance In Seeking Employment), and interlibrary loans. Included in the library space are public meeting rooms and a computer training room available for reservations. The Arkansas Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is a division overseen by the ASL.
The Arkansas State Library mission is “to serve as the information resource center for state agencies, legislators and legislative staffs, to provide guidance and support for the development of local public libraries and library services, and to provide the resources, services, and leadership necessary to meet the educational, informational and cultural needs of the citizens of Arkansas.”
For additional information:
Arkansas State Library. http://www.asl.lib.ar.us/ (accessed August 9, 2017).
Ashcraft, Carolyn. Arkansas State Library: The First 75 Years, 1937–2012. N.p.: 2012.
Last Updated 8/9/2017
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