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Mental Health Awareness Month: Resources From Your Library That Can Help

This may not be the coziest topic, but it’s a necessary one. And it’s a topic that many of us deeply relate to. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time dedicated to promoting awareness of the importance of mental health and the symptoms caused by mental health decline. Beyond opening up educational discussions on mental health, it’s a month that aims to destigmatize common stereotypes and similar issues around it based on societal views that are misguided or not fully informed. 

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed since 1949 and was founded by the national organization Mental Health America (MHA). Like MHA, our mission in this post is to provide a toolkit of materials from our own library that you can take advantage of to care for your own mental health needs and, just as importantly, feel accommodated for, seen, and valued. 

What are some things you can do at our library to help boost your mental health? This list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a good starter guide: 

1. Try our Tai Chi or yoga classes - Tai Chi and yoga have been shown to improve balance, strength, mood, mental acuity, chronic pain, and other health conditions. These sessions are amazing for both your body and mind, and they’re free to attend! Tai Chi is held every Wednesday at 1pm, and yoga is on Thursdays at 7pm. Both are beginner friendly! 
2. Use one of our sensory bags - this is a good option for our neurodivergent folks who experience depression, anxiety, concentration issues, and more. Many of the tools in our sensory bags help to calm the mind and ease the body to allow one to function while completing a task. To read more in detail about the bags, visit our December 2022 blog post “Our New Sensory Bags”, where there is also an unpacking video featured from our YouTube channel! 

3. Join our Teen Activity Club - If you’re a teen or tween in need of a friendly group to call home, look no further! Whether you’re experiencing loneliness or finding it difficult to make friends, our TAC group is a place to find affirming, genuine companionship.They meet every Thursday at 4pm at our Conway branch! Need a similar group for adults? Consider becoming a member of our Book Club held on 2nd Thursdays each month, also located in Conway.  

4. Come to our monthly programs - there’s strength in finding community, and it will strengthen your mind, too. By socializing and building connections with others, you can not only make lifelong friends, but regain your sense of purpose and zest for life. You may even discover a new passion or hobby! We have so many kinds of programs to choose from each month, catered to different interests, so grab one of our calendars or click on the Events tab at to see what cool things we have going on! You can also select the Programs tab and click on your age group. 

5. Check out our selection of mental health books - We have a hefty catalog of books in our physical collection here, but if you want a more curated list, here are our staff recommendations for all ages: 

A Blue Kind of Day*

*This children’s book by Rachel Tomlinson, described as a “moving picture book about depression, sensory awareness, and the power of listening”, is not a part of our collection yet, but could be if you request it! 🙂

In addition, for those of you who don’t know, one of the digital apps we partner with is Hoopla. Similar to Libby, Hoopla is a great place to explore eBook and eAudiobook collections from the convenience of your phone or tablet. All you need to sign up is your FCL card number and PIN, and you can begin browsing the thousands of titles they offer! And the best part is, they have an entire section dedicated to improving, overcoming, and coping with mental health issues. Here’s what Hoopla has to say about Mental Health Awareness Month and how it is using its collections to give support: 

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Support your mental health through these eBook collections about managing stress and anxiety, wellness for kids and teens, finding your happy place, and authors sharing their mental health journeys:

Sometimes you need to get away, if only in your mind. Discover eBooks on @hooplaDigital that will help you find calm.

Find support for kids' and teens' mental health @hooplaDigital with eBooks created to teach and help young readers how to manage mental health.

Discover helpful tips, tricks, and insights to help with managing stress and anxiety with these eBooks available on @hooplaDigital

A valuable part of mental health is knowing you're not alone. Check out @hooplaDigital for authors who share their powerful stories of struggle and how they cope.

Download the Hoopla app from our website here:


Ask a Librarian: FAQs on Library Policies and Procedures

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You all asked and we answered! Many of our patrons have inquired about a list of all the items that can be borrowed from our library, along with a few other good questions. So for this blog post, we’ve compiled a handy-dandy selection of frequently asked questions and their highly anticipated answers. This will be Part 1 in the Ask a Librarian series, so stay tuned for more in the future! But for now, we hope these will help give more clarification into some of the procedures and policy changes that have taken place. 

What can you borrow at the Faulkner County Library? 

You can borrow a lot more than books at the library! We also have: 
DVDs & Blu-ray movies 
TV series 
Music CDs
Language learning materials 
Computer projectors and screens
Plant seeds
Wi-Fi hotspots
Storytime To Go Kits
Fishing poles (Mayflower branch only)
Sensory bags (in-house use only)
Tablets (in-house use only)

*Other services we offer
Faxing ($0.50/page)
Printing/Copying ($0.10/page Black & White, $0.70/page Color)
Scanning to email or USB
Notary Public
Public computers and Wi-Fi
Voter registration

*All services are free unless otherwise noted

How many items can you check out at a time?
If you are a new or temporary patron, you have a limit of 5 items for your first checkout. The same limit applies for every checkout if you are a nonresident or Gateway user. If you are a standard patron, the limit is 100 items at a time. We have also waived our limit on DVDs and TV series, so you can borrow as many of those as you’d like as long as it’s 100 or less!

How long can these items be checked out for?
Different items have different due dates. Here’s a list of each:
Movies - 1 week
TV series - 2 weeks
CDs - 2 weeks 
New books - 2 weeks
Regular books, audiobooks, graphic novels, & magazines - 4 weeks
Language learning materials - 4 weeks
Telescopes - 2 weeks
Hotspots - 2 weeks
Storytime To Go Kits - 2 weeks
Projectors - 24 hours

What are some important rules to remember while in the library?
1. Food and drink are now allowed, but not near the stacks or computers.

2. Please don’t run or make excessively loud noises!

3. No weapons or drugs of any kind are allowed. If you want to smoke, it must be away from any entrance. 

4. You can pay for a print job with a card, but the limit is no more than $15 worth at a time. Also, please don’t insert a dollar bill more than $5 into the vending machine.

What online resources does the library offer?
With a library card, you get free access to many different online resources! Here’s just a few of them: Mango Languages, Hoopla, Libby, Kanopy, our Niche Academy lessons, plus a long list of research databases! For more information and to view all our options, go to and click on the Resources and Books, E-Media, & More tabs. 

What do you need to get a library card and who is eligible for one?
To get a library card with us, all you need is a valid photo ID and proof of residency in Faulkner or Van Buren County if your ID doesn’t reflect that. Proof can be any document, physical or online, with your name and current address on it: utility bill, lease, Amazon account–all of these examples work! Just visit your nearest branch to fill out an application.

People of all ages are eligible for a card! If you’re under 13 (or a minor ages 13-17 without an ID), you would need to bring a parent or legal guardian with you when applying. If you don’t live here but attend school or college, you are also eligible for a card and can present your school ID. The same goes for if you own a business in either of these counties. If you do not reside or pay property taxes here, you can apply for a nonresident card for a yearly $25 fee, or you can go to your home county’s library and ask if they are a Gateway Program partner with us. If they are, you can apply for a Gateway card which allows you to borrow a limited number of items with us. Just make sure you are in good standing with your local library and have a card with them first!

What kinds of programs and events are at the library?
All kinds! We offer programs and events for adults, teens/tweens, and children. Additionally, we have garden programs you can participate in. Some of our regularly scheduled programs include storytimes, chess club, group crafting, yoga, painting sessions, and so much more! Plus, we offer more specialized programs–like financial literacy classes or concert performances–that can occur at any time, so be sure to check our calendars each month for updates and new events!

What if there is a book or other material I want that you don’t have in your collection?
No problem! We can order it or borrow it from a different library system if we’re unable to buy the item from our distributor. You can request an item at the front desk with your library card or log in to your account on our website and request an item here.

How do I become a volunteer and what will I be helping with?
We’re so glad you’re interested in working with us–there is always something to do at the library! Volunteers are selected and contacted on a first-come, first-serve basis, and you can fill out the application at our front desk or online on our website here. As far as what you’d be assisting with, it can vary depending on the time of year. Oftentimes, we’ll need help processing new books, discarding old ones, or simply with cleaning the building. Sometimes our programmers will need help with facilitating activities, particularly during our busy summer season! You might also lend a hand in the garden or with packing seeds for our Seed Library. If you need volunteer credit, you can log your hours and we’ll make a copy of the timesheet for you!

How often do you buy new material for your collection?
Our cataloguer procures new material on a monthly and even sometimes a weekly basis! We work hard to ensure we have the latest and most popular titles available for patrons to borrow. This is why in our new book sections, you’ll see books with a numbered sticker on them. The number indicates the month in which they were published and/or purchased. Also, if there is an item we don’t have yet that you’d like to request, nine times out of ten we will order it! If our distributor doesn’t have the item in stock, we can borrow it from another library system via interlibrary loan. 

Why can’t we reserve rooms anymore?
Because we are a smaller library system with a one-story building, we have limited space to provide programs and services. There are currently no county plans to expand our main branch in Conway, so the Library Board decided to convert our meeting and seminar rooms into programming spaces. This allows our programmers to offer bigger, better activities for our patrons, especially for the teens/tweens and children who visit almost daily. Our goal is to use our facilities in a way that reflects our community and meets their needs. With our programming spaces permanently relocating to the meeting rooms, we will have the resources to offer a wider range of programs that occur more consistently and at a larger capacity, while still having open but quieter areas available for private study, business meetings, etc. 

Do you offer laptops or headphones?
Unfortunately, we do not offer either at the moment, but you are more than welcome to bring your own set to plug into our public computers or your own laptop to use our free Wi-Fi. We hope to provide laptop and headphone checkouts as an option in the future. However, we DO currently offer hotspots! You can check one out for your household for up to two weeks and they are renewable as long as there are no holds. They’re perfect for if you don’t have Internet at home or if you live outside of town and get spotty service. 

Do you accept donations?
Absolutely! Just preferably not encyclopedias, dictionaries, textbooks, magazines, or VHS tapes. Depending on the publication date, those will most likely not be added to our shelves. Instead, they will become a part of our book sale or be recycled. If they are not one of the above items and in good condition, they can be placed in our collection. We also offer a tax credit form to any donors who are interested in writing it off as a charitable donation! Something to remember: we highly suggest calling us BEFORE dropping off donations. There will be occasions where we don’t have room in our storage to accept new donations. 


Program Spotlight: May the Fourth Be With You! Star Wars Day at the Library

A long time ago in a library far, far away…

Okay, it was actually a short time ago at a library in this very town (hint: it’s us) that held probably one of the greatest events in the galaxy: Star Wars Day. So many of our patrons–and all of our staff–look forward to celebrating this day. It’s just one of those timeless cinematic creations that will remain relevant to pop culture and the kind of program people keep coming back to!

Star Wars Day entails displaying our favorite books and movies from the fandom all around the library, along with screening some of the beloved films. Another popular recurring activity is making miniature lightsabers using boba straws and finger lights! They turned out to be really effective glow-in-the-dark toys, and the kiddos loved them. Lightsaber battles may or may not have ensued. Here are a couple photos of how they turned out: 

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We also shot a Star Wars-themed Cookbook Corner video on our YouTube channel hosted by our Garden Programmer Erica (if you haven’t subscribed yet, you need to!). In this episode, Erica gives a step-by-step demonstration on how to make Yalbec Stingers, an appetizer fit for Admiral Snackbar and a recipe taken from the book Star Wars, The Life Day Cookbook: Official Holiday Recipes From a Galaxy Far, Far Away. A little behind-the-scenes footage: 

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Click on the link to watch the demo here:

You can also place a hold on the book here

In addition to that, we filmed two more videos on DIY Star Wars Coasters using cross-stitch patterns with our staff member Sawyer, who shows how to make the cutest little womp rat in the galaxy, Grogu, and a second choice of imperial perfection featuring Darth Vader. Patrons were able to pick up the take-and-make kit supplies at the front desk and learn from the comfort of their own homes! 

Click on this link to learn how to cross-stitch Grogu: 
Or click on this link to master a Jedi-level Darth Vader coaster: 

As always, and even when it’s not May 4th, May the Fourth Be With You! Don’t forget to keep reading books: they’re our only hope ;)


Community Spotlight: The Bookcase Project

The annual Bookcase Project is one of our most prominent community partnerships at the Faulkner County Library that we look forward to every year. Collaborating with the Conway Kiwanis Club and the Community Action Program for Central Arkansas (CAPCA), our library serves as a distribution center for the sets of personalized bookcases and book starter kits that 50 Head Start children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive to help them succeed in their education and development of literacy skills. 

The Project, entering its 19th consecutive year, is a volunteer-led initiative founded by Jim Davidson in 2005, the nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist and author who saw a need to fulfill in Arkansas. Noticing the lower literacy rates at the local level, Davidson sought to implement a program that would aid in expanding opportunities for families and their children to have access to books. “We will never improve the problem of illiteracy in our nation, until we make reading a top priority in the homes of America again,” Davidson stated. 

Over time, organizations like Kiwanis began to get involved, leading to a statewide endeavor where children ages 3-5 are encouraged to begin reading in order to better ensure their future success, both professionally and personally. During October, The Bookcase Banquet serves as the primary source of funding for the construction of the bookcases. The banquet is also where status updates on our state’s literacy rates are shared, and committee members of the Bookcase Project Board, including our own Library Director, convene to inform the Department of Education of progress in their districts and celebrate milestones. 

The books and bookcases aren’t the only things the Head Start children are gifted with, either. Each bookcase is labeled with a nameplate of the recipient, and the books come with personalized bookmarks plus a stuffed animal to accompany as a reading buddy. This year, the children got to take home adorable unicorns and puppies with them. 

Since the Project’s founding, over 900 bookcases and starter kit sets have been awarded to preschoolers in Faulkner County. According to a research brief released by Amplify on February 16, 2022, the number of students nationally in grades K-5 at risk of not learning to read has increased during the pandemic. “The purpose of our literacy initiative is to reverse this trend and reduce the percentage of students who need additional support in reading,” said Richard S. Plotkin, chair of the Bookcase Project. 

Now in 2023, 50 more kids from Conway, Greenbrier, and Southside schools are getting the support they need. Check out these wholesome, heartwarming photos from the event below! 🦄 🐶 📚 

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Every Day is Right to Read Day! How You Can Protect Your Freedom to Read

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Book bans are something that no library is immune to, and the effects can be devastating for communities. Not only is having access to information a constitutional freedom, but it is paramount to our advancement as a society. You’ve probably heard the famous quote from Winston Churchill, “those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Book bans and other aims at censorship from our past have proven his point: erasure only begets ignorance, and spins a vicious cycle of injustice that threatens liberty for everyone. Efforts to more closely scrutinize educational institutions nearly doubled in 2022–the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom tracked over 1,269 attempts to ban books and other resources in libraries and schools. In the state of Arkansas, those same attempts are happening with greater frequency. Even our own library has been subject to a few book challenges over the past year, and we continue to combat opposition from the local to the legislative level. 

This week is National Library Week, a time that recognizes and supports readers, librarians, advocates, educators, and library lovers in their mission for providing knowledge. Monday, April 24th, is Right to Read Day, a call for all to defend against censorship and protect their right to read freely. This is also the day that the State of America’s Libraries Report is released, which includes the Top Ten Most Challenged Books for the previous year. But we can all agree that every day should be Right to Read Day, right?

According to the ALA, the most challenged books addressed topics on race, gender identity, sexuality, and reproductive health. 2022’s most challenged books were: 

1. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

4. Flamer by Mike Curato

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green & The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (these two books were tied in their number of national challenges at 55)

6. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 

8. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

9-10. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas; Crank by Ellen Hopkins; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews; and This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson (all four of these books were tied in their number of national challenges at 48)

Here’s an infographic that details the latest cases of censorship:

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So how can you help fight against book bans and keep your library accessible to all?

1. Check out books! The best way to keep a book on the shelf is to check it out. If our end of the year reports show statistics that prove banned books are being circulated and requested by the general public, it is harder to make an argument for removing them from the collection. 
2. Contact your elected officials: call or email your local representatives to give them your input on book bans happening in your district and any related bills they will vote on. If you don’t know your representative, you can find them on the Arkansas House of Representatives website by typing in your address and zip code here: 
You can do the same to find your local senator here: 
3. Start a campaign: connect with others about book bans happening in your community and mobilize to speak out against them. Gather different groups and organizations in your area to attend legislative meetings or to coordinate a peaceful protest. The more publicized news of censorship gets and the more people become involved, the greater the chance of halting attempts or reversing laws that support book bans. 
4. Report censorship to the ALA: the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom can help defend your freedom to read. Submitting a report keeps them aware of any national attempts at censorship. 

Want to learn more about efforts to fight against book bans and how you can make a difference? Visit! Happy reading!!