ECARL was created in 1982 by the Quorum Courts of Cross and Woodruff Counties to provide regional library services and to foster the growth of libraries within the region. The county libraries were established under Act 244 of the Acts of Arkansas of 1927. The Woodruff County Library was reorganized in compliance with Arkansas Act 742, Ordinance # 19-A, April 17, 1978. The Cross County Library was reorganized on February 20, 1978, Ordinance # 78-5. Act 244 of the 1927 Arkansas Legislature requires that county libraries, such as the Cross County Library and Woodruff County Library, be located in the county seat of their respective county.
Mrs. Laura Adele "Lolly" Ledbetter Shaver, the Cross County Librarian was selected as the first Executive Director/Regional Librarian.
Though not required by law, each county library, in cooperation with local municipal governments, has added branches outside of the county seats to meet the needs of the population over the years.
CROSS COUNTY LIBRARY HISTORY
The Cross County Library was first established in the back room of the Women's Progressive Club in 1945 and operated by volunteers. Anita Holt Thwing, Gloria Brown Borell, Alva McElroy Jackson and Joyce Harris Walker were some of the first volunteers when the library was in the Progressive Club building.
Later, it had a room upstairs in the Cross County Courthouse Extension Building, the buff brick house that sat south of the old courthouse.
In 1962 Southwestern Bell transferred ownership of their telephone building on Merriman Avenue to Cross County for use as a library. The facility was remodeled into a library with the support of the City of Wynne, Cross County Quorum Court, Cross County Bank, First National Bank, the Bank of Cherry Valley, Wynne Federal Savings and Loan, the 100 Club of Wynne and the Wynne Rotary Club. The remodeling was completed in 1966-67. The library originally had magazines and books that were exchanged. Mrs. A. O. Chastain was the first paid librarian.
In 1975, Lolly Shaver became the librarian and served in that capacity until September of 2005, when Caprisha Page became the Director. In June of 2009, Holly Mercer was hired as the Director. In 2013, John Paul Myrick took over the reins as Regional Librarian.
In 1982 Cross and Woodruff counties joined together to create the East Central Arkansas Regional Library. The object of the creating the region was to meet the educational, information, and recreational needs of the people of both counties.
On October 14, 2003 a 1.5 millage property tax was passed by voters to support the Cross County Library’s operations. Other financial support for the library includes state funding, endowments, interest, gifts and memorials.
In 1982 a back addition was constructed. In 1998-99, the east side addition was added, which sits approximately on part of where Barwick Ford Company was once located. Again, there were many donors to this project, and the Friends of the Cross County Library took out a loan to complete the construction. In the mid-1990s Internet service was provided.
The current Cross County Library building is 8,700 square feet. The library’s collection and services have expanded since the library was first opened. Today the library has a collection of over 30,000 print items, 2,000 videos, downloadable audio books, public access computers, wireless internet, electronic books for kids, an active Summer Reading Programs, online research tools, computer classes, numerous author visits and arts shows, and an active Friends of the Library Group. The library has a 24/7 web presence and the building provides services 49 hours per week. Over 10,000 registered library users use the library in a variety of ways. Some enjoy finding books by their favorite author, or discovering a new favorite author. Some enjoy using the computers to find information and connect with friends and family. Children enjoy the library’s children’s books and programs, especially the Summer Reading Program.Prices and Specifications: The library’s services are free because the library is supported through a millage and individual donations.
The library will continue to meet the community’s needs through a variety of services and programs. As the use of the library grows, future plans are to expand the building. The library will be the focal point of the downtown area and be utilized as a place for the community to gather and learn.
WOODRUFF COUNTY LIBRARY HISTORY
The exact date of the founding of the Woodruff County Memorial Library is unknown. In 1966, two Augusta families (Gregorys) donated the current lot on Mulberry Street to be used as a library. 60% of the construction costs of the current building were covered with federal money. 40% of the required matching money for the building was raised by Woodruff County citizens. Individuals families and local businesses donated toward the library building and furnishing.
In February of 1967, the required match for the federal funds was met. Bill Saxton was the architect and R.D. Fox was the contractor for the new Woodruff County Library. The building was opened and dedicated on April 28, 1968. The library was dedicated “to the services of the people of the area.”
A library millage was passed in the amount of 1 mill to support library operations. In 1993, a vote was passed to increase the tax to 2 mills.
Recognizing the need for improved library services and facilities across Woodruff County, the board began planning for future growth in 2013. In 2014, the "WOODRUFF 21: A PLAN FOR OUR LIBRARIES FUTURE" was unveiled to guide development and to raise funds for re-reroofing and additions at Augusta and library branches in McCrory and Cotton plant. A full service branch library was opened at McCrory with the assistance of the City of McCrory on July 17, 2014. A major re-roofing project at the Augusta Library was completed in August 2014, and plans are currently underway for an addition to the Augusta Library.