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Central Arkansas Library System Foundation

Protecting Your Freedom to Read

The Central Arkansas Library System is part of a coalition of libraries joining forces to raise funds through a Library Giving Day campaign on April 3, 2024.
US$21,409
raised of US$15,000 target
by 85 supporters
RCN 272094612

Story

This year’s campaign goal is to raise funds for the library’s Legal Fund. All donations to CALS’s Legal Fund up to $15,000 will be matched by the Arkansas Public Law Center. Gifts to the Legal Fund will assist CALS in our ongoing efforts to protect Arkansans’ freedom to read. If you would like to support CALS on Library Giving Day, but you would prefer to donate to another program or initiative, you may do so at CALS.org/foundation.

Make a donation now through April 3.

I encourage patrons, donors, and library lovers to make a donation in support of your library.

CALS is a community leader, a trusted resource, and a beloved neighborhood cornerstone across Central Arkansas. In addition to well-loved books, we are known for our innovative programs that promote lifelong learning, connect patrons to technology, and advance knowledge.

Defend your right to read.

As librarians, we are also passionate defenders of your right to read what you choose. We subscribe to the core principles of intellectual freedom, and we believe that free access to ideas is among the most critical and valued rights in our country.

As you are likely aware, these core principles have recently been challenged at libraries nationwide at an alarming rate. Book bans are increasing, and under a new law in Arkansas known as Act 372, librarians would be subject to criminal charges for furnishing any item that is “harmful to minors.” According to 2023 data from the American Library Association, most challenges were to books written by people of color or members of the LGBTQ community.

Understanding the severity of Act 372 and concerned by its unconstitutionality, on May 25, 2023, the CALS board of directors authorized a lawsuit in federal court challenging elements of this law. Over the last year, CALS has been proud to lead efforts in Arkansas to block this book-banning legislation. On Saturday July 29, 2023, the litigation achieved an important milestone when U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks issued an order preliminarily enjoining enforcement of parts of the law pending a final disposition of our case. The order affirmed the unique and important role of libraries in our democracy:

“The vocation of a librarian requires a commitment to freedom of speech and the celebration of diverse viewpoints unlike that found in any other profession,” wrote Judge Brooks. “The librarian curates the collection of reading materials for an entire community, and in doing so, he or she reinforces the bedrock principles on which this country was founded.”

Our challenge is not over yet.

Though the order was gratifying, our challenge is not over yet. Judge Brooks has set a tentative trial in the second half of October 2024. The case will likely be fully briefed in June.

To date, CALS has raised about $42,000 to pay the legal fees associated with this litigation. To keep pace with the demands of the lawsuit, we must continue fundraising.

As we wait for the judicial process to run its full course, I urge you to support the freedom to read by contributing to CALS’s Legal Fund.

Gifts up to $15,000 will be matched.

All gifts up to $15,000 made to CALS’s Legal Fund will be matched. That means your support will go twice as far to help your local library defend our right to have uncensored access to materials at the library.

Thank you for your support,

Nate Coulter

CALS Executive Director

About the charity

The Central Arkansas Library System Foundation provides resources to CALS to help residents reach their full potential and to inspire discovery, learning, and cultural expression. We are focused on improving literacy, the exchange of ideas, workforce development, and social engagement.

Donation summary

Total raised
US$21,409.00
Online donations
US$8,881.00
Offline donations
US$12,528.00
Direct donations
US$8,881.00
Donations via fundraisers
US$0.00

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