Local libraries are always turning new pages

The Fort Smith Main Library will be closed August 9-11 for replacement of the building’s air conditioning system. But Diane Holwick, deputy director, assures patrons that all three neighborhood libraries will be open; due dates for anything due during the shutdown will be automatically extended to August 15; and access to Library2Go, hoopla, Kanopy and the library’s online catalog will only be limited for a few hours on August 10 when the electricity goes out at the main library. Internet access in branch libraries will only be restricted for the time being.

The Fort Smith Public Library opened on July 27, 1892 in the Belle Grove School building. It was run by the Fortnightly Club, Holwick explains, with Mary O’Toole Parker, wife of Judge Isaac Parker, serving as club president, and Florence Clayton, wife of U.S. Attorney Henry HH Clayton, as a founding member. The main library’s current location at 3201 Rogers Avenue celebrated its grand opening the weekend of February 23–25, 2001.

The Dallas Street Branch Library is at 8100 Dallas Branch; the Miller Branch Library at 8701 S. 28th St.; and the Windsor Drive Branch Library at 4701 Windsor Drive.

Holwick says the stats have been a little hard to piece together for the past two years, but before the pandemic hit in 2019:

• 330,606 people visited a Fort Smith Public Library location;

• 384,464 items (books, DVDs, magazines, audio books, etc.) were borrowed;

• Over 400 new library cards were issued each month;

• Over 238,075 questions were answered by library staff; and

• 233,794 computer sessions were recorded by customers.

Here are some of the things happening in August at Fort Smith Libraries:

Miller Branch Artist of the Month — Photographer Kerrie Taber’s interest in photography began during her years of living in Austin, exploring different parts of the Texas highlands, capturing sunrises and sunsets over the area lakes and hills, as well as wildflowers and vistas. She recently moved to work at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Tiny Art Show – Wooden dolls are on display at all locations, made from tiny art kits given out in July.

Bottled Water Collection — A bottled water collection for the Next Step Homeless Services day room will take place throughout the month at all locations. Individual size (16 ounce) bottle crates are preferred. The Next Step Homeless Services opened in Fort Smith in 2002 and remains a leader in homeless services in the community.

Game day Saturday! — Come hang out, relax, and play a board game or two every Saturday in August, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Miller Branch Library.

Story Time — With the Fort Smith Fire Department, 10 a.m. Aug. 10, Dallas Branch Library.

Author Visit — With Gayla McBride Edwards, author of “Frankie, Nancy and Rose on the Mountain,” 1:30 p.m. Aug. 13, Main Library. The Arkansas Department of Genealogy and History welcomes Edwards, who will read a chapter from the book and discuss his writing process.

The Book Lover’s Club — Have you read a good book lately? Come and share at the Book Lover’s Club, at 10 a.m. on August 18, Main Library. The Book Lover’s Club meets on the third Thursday of each month.

Crochet and Tell – Have you completed a crochet project? Show it during Hook & Tell, 2 p.m. Aug. 18, Main Library.

Adult Recreation: Index Card Art — Stretch your creative muscles with Index Card Art, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Aug. 25, Windsor Branch Library.

Annual Friends of the Library Used Book Sale — Non-Fiction, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. August 27 and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. August 28, Main Library. Proceeds from the sale are used to purchase library materials and fund special events and projects.

CB to You Mobile Art Lab — Thank you celebration with Crystal Bridges Museum partner artist and local educator Lynette Thrower, who will be at the main library and help guests create and design a decorative time capsule to take home , from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 30, Main Library.

For more information, visit fortsmithlibrary.org or follow the library on social media at www.facebook.com/fortsmithlibrary; www.instagram.com/fortsmithlibrary; and www.youtube.com/fortsmithpubliclibrary.

Wooden dolls of book characters sit atop a shelf as part of a month-long Tiny Art Exhibit held at all Fort Smith Public Library locations. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

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