There are big changes in store for 100 Rock St. The Main Library branch of the Central Arkansas Library System will soon undergo a large-scale renovation, which will result in the building's closure from fall 2023 to early 2025.
"The thing about change is that it doesn’t happen overnight," executive director Nate Coulter says. "Especially when you’re talking about rehabbing a five-story building that serves not only as home to more than 100 employees, but also as a public space that serves a multitude of audiences, from those who pop in to grab a book to those who spend hours playing in the youth area or listening to stories, to those who simply use the space to seek shelter from the elements."
According to communications director Tameka Lee, along with needed fixes to the aging building, CALS envisions the new Main to include "a more robust community resources area, better use of the outdoor space, a retail/cafe section and an overall more welcoming atmosphere for any visitor."
Throughout Main's approximately 18-month renovation, many of the building's operations will be outsourced to neighboring CALS sites in the River Market's Library Square, which includes the Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art, Ron Robinson Theater, Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and The Rock It! Lab.
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The Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square will close in late spring/early summer — becoming a temporary library space that will house a circulation desk for checkouts and holds pickup, a public computer lab and meeting and program space — and will not reopen after the renovation.
"Once the dust (literally) settles at Main, we will regroup and determine what that space will become in the future, whether it houses a small cafe or a retail space, we are unsure at the moment, but know that we will do what is best for our patrons and for CALS while continuing to be good stewards of the money trusted to us," Coulter says.
Renovation plans were set in motion following last spring's vote to approve a new millage allowing CALS to refinance. More on that here.
Services at Roberts Library and The Rock It! Lab will continue as normal, and the popular Friends of CALS Used Book Sales will continue as well, though no word yet on where they will take place.
A detailed timeline and final plans for Main have yet to be announced. To read Coulter's statement, visit the CALS website, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest.
Update: CALS has created a webpage where it will post updates on the project. Find it here.