Changes are on the way for the Central Arkansas Library System’s Library Square in Little Rock’s River Market District that will affect book buyers, art lovers and local artists.
As reported by Paige Eichkorn in the Dem-Gaz last month, CALS will be undertaking a major renovation project at the Main Library in the fall. The construction will result in the closure of the Bookstore at Library Square in the Roberts Library as well as the galleries in the space.
The bookstore moved to its current location two years ago from the nearby Cox Building, where it had been since 2001. The store offers affordable used books from the library’s collection as well as new books and titles by Arkansas authors. It’s a great resource for book lovers, with selections ranging from classics to science fiction, cookbooks, biographies, and most everything in between. Pottery, jewelry, sculpture and other items from Arkansas artists and artisans are also sold at the store. The four galleries, including the one in the adjacent Concordia Hall, host regular exhibitions.
Plans are for the store and galleries to close in late spring or early summer, said Tameka Lee, communications director for CALS. During the renovation project, some of the Main Library’s operations such as computer labs and places to view materials will be moved to the bookstore and gallery spaces, she adds. Some staff offices and CALS’s Rock It! Laboratory program will also move to the building.
There’s a chance the bookstore, or something similar, will return when construction is complete, which is expected to be early 2025.
“There is a possibility of having some kind of retail presence, but at this point we’re not sure exactly what that’s going to look like,” Lee says.
CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter wrote in the library system’s weekly newsletter: “We regret losing the space for local artists and writers to sell their work at CALS, but we are optimistic that when the main library is fully restored , that some retail space for the marketing of used books and maybe some art. We will maintain our commitment to exhibit art throughout Library Square and add more public art to the remodel.”
The store and galleries now have four full-time employees and one part-time, says Lee.
“We always try to retain employees when that’s an option. We’re going to do our best to have a place for as many of our staff members as possible.”
Coulter, meanwhile, mentioned plans for a liquidation sale in the near future at the store.
“We hope that you will come out and say hello and support the work of the local artists who have come to call the Galleries their home.”