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Butler Center Books Earn Two ALA Awards PDF Print E-mail
Written by CALS   

Butler Center staff member Ali Welky and Butler Center Books author Rex Nelson win awards
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Central Arkansas Library System's (CALS) Butler Center for Arkansas Studies is pleased to announce that two books published by Butler Center Books have won awards from the Arkansas Library Association (ALA) as the best Arkansas-related books published in 2015-2016. A Captive Audience, an edited work by Butler Center staff member Ali Welky, was awarded the Arkansiana Award in the Juvenile category. Rex Nelson's book Southern Fried won the Arkansiana Award for Adult Non-fiction. The awards will be presented during the ALA's annual conference on September 24 at the Embassy Suites hotel in Rogers. To view other Butler Center Books, visit https://www.butlercenter.org/publication/.

Description of Ali Welky's book:

Using archival primary material such as photographs, yearbooks, artwork and first-person written accounts, A Captive Audience gives an inside look at the experiences of young people at the Rohwer and Jerome Relocation Centers in Arkansas during the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Many young internees at the camps saw their families lose their homes, businesses and possessions from their lives on the West Coast when the U.S. government rounded up people of Japanese descent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Yet through all the chaos and heartbreak of the internment experience, young people often brought a unique perspective of hope and resiliency-going to school, having fun with friends and even falling in love in these remote Arkansas camps, all within a perimeter of barbed wire and guard towers.

Intended for young-adult readers, this book explores important dimensions of Arkansas and U.S. history, including human rights and what it means to be an American, and gives readers a chance to consider how they would face situations of upheaval and strife.

Ali Welky started her editorial career working for children's book publisher Scholastic Inc. She holds an MA in English literature from the University of Central Arkansas and is the assistant editor of the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System.

Description of Rex Nelson's book:

For decades, Rex Nelson has been traveling Arkansas. He learned to love the back roads, small towns and people of the state while going on trips with his father, who sold athletic supplies to high schools. They sat in old Depression-era gyms built by the Works Progress Administration, ate in small-town cafes and waded in streams on warm spring days.

In this collection of selected columns from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nelson brings to life the personalities, communities, festivals and tourist attractions that make Arkansas unique. As he says, "Arkansas is a hard place to explain to outsiders. We're mostly Southern but also a bit Midwestern and a tad Southwestern. The Ozarks are different from the pine woods of the Gulf Coastal Plain, and the Delta is different from the Ouachitas. Invariably, though, those who take the time to get off the main roads and get to know the real Arkansas are entranced by the place."

Rex Nelson, one of the state's most high-profile writers and speakers, has had a long career in government, journalism and public affairs. He worked in the administrations of Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and President George W. Bush. Nelson is an expert on Southern history, culture and politics, and he has appeared on radio and television stations across the country. He's a columnist and the senior editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is the author of the popular "Southern Fried" blog. His feature stories regularly appear in various magazines.

For more information about the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, contact Shelle Stormoe at (501) 918-3033 or

About CALS
The Central Arkansas Library System contains more than one million items and has the largest research collection in central Arkansas. The system consists of 14 libraries located in the city of Little Rock (Main Library and eight branches), Pulaski County (Wrightsville, Jacksonville, Sherwood, and Maumelle), and Perry County (Perryville). CALS facilities on the Main Library campus include Ron Robinson Theater, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and the Cox Creative Center.

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