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SouthArk library reaches out for community connection for growth

Posted on February 7, 2017

Published by El Dorado News Times

Philip Shackelford, South Arkansas Community College’s library director, is looking forward to helping the library grow and become a vibrant part in El Dorado’s community. Shackelford was the guest speaker at this week’s Rotary Club meeting at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

Shackelford is from Northeast Mississippi and received his master’s degree in library and information science and history from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

The South Arkansas Community College library is free and open to the residents of the El Dorado community and county. Located just off the new Heritage Plaza on SouthArk’s west campus, the library has an auditorium that seats 100 people and a conference room for community use. “In terms of collections, we have over 33,000 print volumes and 450,000 digital items available,” Shackelford said. “Which together provides South Arkansas with access to 2 million dollars worth of resources.”

The SouthArk library is a teaching library that provides educational and cultural enrichment opportunities that offer these resources to the community. The library is dedicated to serving the needs to the SouthArk students and staff, he said. “We are just as committed to serving the needs to our community,” Shackelford said. “This is a message we feel needs emphasizing since so few people are aware that they can actually come and take advantage of the resources and opportunities we have.”

The library has recently obtained Hoopla Digital, which is a streaming service that allows users access to e-books, movies, audio books and much more. It can be accessed by downloading the app on a phone, tablet or at the library’s website. With this, you do not have to worry about late fees or returning items back to the library, he said.

The library staff has also created a list of books that they felt best represented a particular genre or category. They uploaded the titles on their website for anyone who wants to read a book, but can’t decide what would fit them best. They also created a reading challenge called SouthArk Reads. Everyone who is involved will be entered in to a drawing, he said.

The library recently finalized partnering with Lincoln Center Local who provide free screenings of concerts and recitals via website. “All you have to do is get signed up and registered,” Shackelford said. “They will provide a catalog of screenings you can schedule, so we’re going to be offering several of those through February and April.”

The library has lined up a list of scheduled events that are taking place this spring that they hope the community will engage in. Starting today, the SouthArk students from the Allied Health nursing programs are offering a free blood pressure screening in the library at 2 p.m.

They are also emphasizing Black History Month, Women’s History Month and American Heart Month with speakers and events. They will have a free showing of the movie “Red Tails,” which covers the history of the first African American combat pilots to fight during WWII, on Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.

For Women’s History Month, Andrea Benton of Aerojet Rocketdyne will visit to speak about “Hidden Figures” at 6 p.m. March 16.

The community forum is taking place at 6 p.m. on March 20 in the auditorium. They are hosting this event to spread the word about the library to the community. “If you only come to one event this spring, we want to see you at our community forum,” Shackelford said. “There will be a presentation about the library, what we do and where we’re hoping to go.”

You can visit the SouthArk library website for a list of all upcoming events at The library is open Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. to noon on Fridays. During the academic year they are open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Above all, the single most important thing you can do is use the library,” Shackelford said. “If you’re not using the library already, if you don’t have a library card, come and see us. Check us out and let us know what we can do for you and how we can help you.”