FAYETTEVILLE -- The Clinton School for Public Policy and the Fayetteville Public Library are exploring how to share the school's nationally recognized speakers.
David Johnson, executive director of the library, and Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School, said this week they have agreed in principle to look for ways to bring the speakers here from Little Rock.
By The Numbers
The largest number of people to attend an event at the Fayetteville Public Library was 643 for the library foundation’s gala and premier of “Up Among the Hills: The Story of Fayetteville” on Oct. 19, 2012. The second largest attendance was 583 to see Dave Barry on April 12, 2013.
Source: Fayetteville Public Library
The Clinton School offers its students experts in arts, humanities, journalism, politics and business. Speakers last year included Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state; astronaut Buzz Aldrin and actor Jeff Bridges.
Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, also known as Americorps, will be among the speakers this school year, Rutherford said.
"I would love to bring that quality of speaker to Fayetteville," Johnson said.
Johnson and Rutherford said their discussion revolves around logistics, including scheduling speakers and how much space and parking is needed for the audience. Johnson announced the ongoing discussion at an Aug. 18 meeting of the library Board of Trustees. It was met with enthusiasm by the members.
The library can comfortably seat about 150 in the Walker Community Room on the main floor. Furniture and display tables must be moved and portions of the library closed to accommodate groups up to 1,300. That was the plan to accommodate patrons to see Maya Angelou last spring. Angelou canceled her appearance and died soon after.
"Skip often doesn't know far enough in advance and it's difficult to book events here on short notice," Johnson said, especially because of the time needed to move furniture. Also, the library may have other events booked.
An 800-seat auditorium is one of the options on the table as the library moves forward with its expansion onto the City Hospital property it is buying.
"An auditorium would be perfect to be able to scale the room to the size of an audience," Johnson said.
The flexibility of the space is necessary, Rutherford said, because the series is free and there is no way to know if a speaker is going to draw 30 spectators or 300. In Little Rock, the school has moved some speakers to the Clinton Library or the Old Statehouse Museum as interest dictates.
Expansion of the library could give the Clinton School the flexibility it needs, Rutherford said.
There is no timetable on implementing a plan but Johnson said there may be something worked out by late 2015.
"We're committed to see how this would work," Rutherford said. His interest in bringing some of the Clinton School speakers to Fayetteville goes back about two years when he first had an idea to develop a a partnership with the library to expand the speaker series.
It's a logical place, Rutherford said, noting the library is within walking distance to the University of Arkansas and downtown where people could easily attend a brown bag lunch program.
Neither Johnson or Rutherford have put a pencil to costs.
Rutherford said the Clinton School doesn't pay its speakers. It pays travel and hosts a dinner, often with students in attendance.
"We haven't dotted our i's or crossed our t's but we have agreed in concept and principle and think we can make it work," Rutherford said. "It has potential and would be great for Northwest Arkansas and for Little Rock."NW News on 08/25/2014
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