Remembering Maya

Maya AngelouLast week, the country and the state lost one of its great poets, Maya Angelou.  To celebrate her life and legacy, we’ve assembled just a few of the resources documenting her extraordinary life and work:

Books at Ross Pendergraft Library:

*These books are located on the first floor at the display table near the south entrance.

Online Resources:


  • A Woman’s Life  A concert arrangment composed by Richard Danielpour, performed by soprano Angela Brown with lyrics by Maya Angelou.  Available through Naxos Music Library.
  • Did you know she was a Calypso singer?  Here is “Neighbour, Neighbour” from her album, Miss Calypso:

Her last scheduled visit to Arkansas would’ve occurred on April 11th, 2014 at the Fayetteville Public Library.  However, she was forced to cancel the appearance for health reasons, and issued a statement expressing her apology and her deeply profound and personal reflections on Arkansas:

I learned in Arkansas at a very young age from my grandmother who taught me, ‘when you learn, teach and when you get, give’.

In Arkansas I also learned not to complain.  I was taught that there are people all over the world who have less than I have and who would give anything for a portion of my possessions.  They went to sleep last night as I went to sleep and they never awakened.  Their beds have become their cooling boards and their blankets have become their winding sheets and they would give anything and everything for what I was complaining about.

In Arkansas, I learned to trust love, not the romance of it, but the heart of it.  In Arkansas I learned to have respect for friendship, to honor it, to trust it and to build it.

The former poet, author, civil rights activist, actress, screenplay writer, cable car conductor, Calypso singer, film director, dancer, newspaper editor, radio voice, cocktail waitress, professor,  and Arkansan died on May 28th, at the age of 86. 





Banned Books

banned books

Every year in the United States, books are challenged, banned, and removed from school and public libraries.   Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read.  Since 1982, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country have drawn attention to the problem of censorship by creating displays or exhibits of challenged and banned books.

locked up books

First floor display of the ATU Library.

This year, Banned Books Week is Sept. 22-28th, and to highlight this event we have created banned book displays on the first floor of the library.  You’ll be able to view some of the frequently challenged or banned books, and discover the reasons why they were or, in some cases, continue to be removed from libraries.

You can find seven of the top ten most challenged books of 2012 right here at Ross Pendergraft Library:

  1. Thirteen reasons why : a novel by Jay Asher.   Reasons:Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  2.  Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.   Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  3.  And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.  Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.   Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  5. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.  Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  6. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz.   Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison.  Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

While a book may be banned from a library in the United States, governments around the world ban and punish the sale, writing, publishing, and even ownership of certain books.  For more information about banned books around the world, visit Beacon for Freedom of Expression, an international database of nearly 50,000 titles of censored works.  It also includes literature about  censorship and freedom of expression.

Celebrate your freedom to read–visit the ATU Library to learn about banned books weeks or take home one for yourself . . . if you dare!

Live Music!

Kick off the fall semester with a concert in the Library Thursday night, August 29th, at 7:00 P.M. in room 300 as we host the musical group HARMONY.  The concert is part of a month-long recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, featuring special guest speakers and exhibits.  HARMONY will be playing Civil War era music for both history and music enthusiasts.

For more Civil War history, be sure to check out the traveling Civil War Exhibit panels and display case in the Library lobby.  You can also read more about the exhibit and find other Civil War resources in our Civil War 150 resource guide:

Questions? Call (479) 964-0569 or send e-mail to


Backyard cannonballs

On Thursday night, Ross Pendergraft Library hosted an evening with history.  We were joined by panelists Paul Slaton, David Vance, and Michael Whitaker to discuss how the Civil War played itself out in our own backyard.


Panelist Paul Slaton, owner of The Emporium in downtown Russellville, discussed some of the local skirmishes around Dardenelle which occurred “almost on a weekly basis” during the Civil.   Audience members also learned about attacks on Union army steamships by Confederate troops along the Arkansas river, and the local artillery outposts used by the Confederates to rain bullets and shells on federalist troops.  One of the many examples of cannon balls and artillery pieces he brought to the discussion were found in his own backyard.


Michael Whitaker described the “Record Caves” where the Pope County official records were hid during the Civil War since a common practice for union troops upon arrival into a  town was to burn the courthouse.  As a result, he says, Pope County is one of only nine counties which still contains county records from before the Civil War.

David Vance brought an extensive knowledge of Civil War currency and Arkansas banking history, as well as a large collection of Arkansas Treasury bonds and other currency issued by this state and other confederate states during the Civil War.


Join us next Thursday, August 29th, for more Civil War history when the musical group HARMONY will be playing authentic Civil War era music in room 300 at 7:00 P.M.











Join us this evening at 7:00 P.M. as we host a panel discussion on the Battle at Dardenelle and other skirmishes in Arkansas, presented by historians Wayne Phillips, Paul Staton, and Michael Whitaker in the Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center, room 300.

Civil War 150 Traveling Exhibit

The guest lecture is part of our month-long recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, featuring speakers, musicians, and a traveling exhibit called, Civil War 150: Explaining the War and Its Meaning Through the Words of Those Who Lived It.

The exhibit panels, located near the south entrance to the Library, depict events and primary source documents from the Civil War such as newspaper headlines, portraits, and photographs.

In our exhibit cases at the north entrance, you’ll also find a collection of Civil War era artifacts including a sword, confederate currency, bullets, a powder horn, and other antiques loan from Paul M. Slaton, owner of The Emporium in Russellville.

Don’t miss our final guest performance next Thursday, August 29th, when we feature the musical group HARMONY, performing music from the Civil War era at 7:00 P.M. in room 300.

Read more about the exhibit and find other Civil War resources in our Civil War 150 resource guide:

Questions? Call (479) 964-0569 or send e-mail to