The Saline County Library is in the process of expanding into a third branch, which will serve the community of East End, Arkansas. This branch will be located in the Hope Valley Development at 24005 Arch Street, Hensley, AR 72065. The expansion is estimated to open in September of 2023.
According to 2020 Census data, there are more than 24,000 households in Saline County’s East End community. However, the nearest branches of the Saline County Library are a 30-minute drive away. Given this area’s propensity for growth, library staff deemed it the perfect location for a new branch.
Until this point, residents of East End have relied on the Saline County Library’s book lockers, located at Sanders Ace Hardware. Patrons place requests for specific books, and then once or twice a week a librarian drives from the Benton branch to drop the books off in the lockers. This system did not allow patrons to browse the library’s vast collection in-person.
The book lockers are owned by the same entity which is building the East End branch. Therefore, the lockers will likely be moved to the exterior of this branch once it is complete. This will continue to allow patrons the flexibility of after-hours pickups.
In addition to the book lockers, residents of East End previously relied on visits from the Malvern-Hot Spring County Bookmobile. This “library on wheels” would visit the iCan! Center at The Crossing at Angel Court on the fourth Thursday of each month. While the opening of the East End branch will discontinue visits from the Bookmobile, the Saline County Library still plans to host events at the iCan! Center.
The East End branch will function similarly to the Benton and Bryant branches, but on a smaller scale. The new branch will offer limited programs for all ages. The building is 3,000 square feet, and will feature a small meeting room and two private study rooms.
This branch will also contain a computer lab with six desktop computers, printers, a fax machine, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a couple of seating areas. The space has been leased for three years, but there is potential to expand into adjacent suites in the future, if needed.
Based on shelving estimates, the East End branch will hold approximately 5,000 items. These materials will be made up of newly purchased books as well as duplicate items from the Benton and Bryant branches. The books will be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction for adults, young adults, juveniles, and children. This branch may carry DVDs and other forms of media, depending on demand and space availability.
The new branch will initially employ one full-time employee and one part-time employee. Prospective applicants for the branch manager position are encouraged to apply online at https://sclibrary.bamboohr.com/careers/94.
Staff members from the Benton and Bryant branches will stop by to facilitate programs and help out as needed. Currently, the plan for this branch is to remain open until 6:00 p.m. most weekday evenings, to give students the chance to visit after school. This is subject to change, based on patron need.
The Saline County Library has been serving the residents of Saline County since 1931. In that time, it has expanded to two other locations: The Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library in Benton and the Mabel Boswell Memorial Library in Bryant.
Each location provides wireless access computing as well as desktop computers for guest use, and several other non-traditional items such as video games, cake pans, small tools, and more. The Saline County Library also provides a variety of events and community outreach programs. For a full list of services and upcoming events, visit www.salinecountylibrary.org or call 501-778-4766.