On June 30, 2020 Carolyn Ashcraft will retire from her position as the State Librarian at the Arkansas State Library. Ashcraft has served as State Librarian since 2005. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the Arkansas State Library is hosting a virtual reception via Zoom on Thursday, June 25 from 1 – 3 pm to honor her upcoming retirement.
Under Ashcraft’s leadership, the Arkansas State Library emphasized the importance of adapting traditional library services to take full advantage of emerging technologies. This approach helped facilitate the transition of Arkansas’ 230 public libraries into the digital era. Notable accomplishments toward this goal include the creation of an E-Rate Coordinator position, a significant expansion of the Traveler Statewide Digital Resource Program, and support of new resource sharing programs like the Arkansas Digital Library Consortium.
Ashcraft has been active in a number of state and national professional associations throughout her career, including the American Association of Retired Persons Arkansas Executive Council, American Library Association, Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Arkansas Distance Learning Coordinating Council, Arkansas Library Association, Association for Rural and Small Libraries, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, Connect Arkansas and the Institute of Museum and Library Services Library Statistics Working Group.
She maintains a near-encyclopedic knowledge of libraries, librarians, and library history. At any Arkansas Library Association Conference, she can typically be seen sitting in a chair, perhaps in a lobby or reception area, holding forth to a rapt audience with tales of interesting librarians, library patrons, politicians, and other notable figures. Her retirement will leave a huge void in Arkansas’ library community, a void that will affect not only librarians but Arkansas’ citizens.
Ashcraft served in the Library Development unit until 2004, first as a Program Advisor and then as the unit Coordinator. Ashcraft was promoted to Deputy Director in 2004, and later selected as the State Librarian in 2005 following the retirement of Jack Mulkey.