New library director hopes to engage community and preserve county history

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
New Crawford County Library System Director George Fowler stands with the previous director, Eva White.

Dr. George Fowler has taken over as new director of the Crawford County Library System, replacing Eva White on Jan. 1.

Fowler, who has been working with White since Dec. 10 before taking over this month, believes the library should help the community become critical thinkers, informed, and gain the skills to engage with other citizens.

"At the end of the day I may be responsible for making decisions, but they won't be based solely on what I'm thinking," he said.

The future of the library, Fowler says, will be driven by the community, the Library Board, and the library staff. An important aspect of libraries, he said, is the focus on dialogue.

"Dialogue, which is communication to develop a shared understanding, is where the library comes in," Fowler said. "We're a political place, but we're not partisan."

Fowler also wants to preserve the history of Crawford County. He explained there are many individuals in the county that have an abundance of experience and memorabilia from around the county.

"We're going to be pursuing, collecting, and promoting the history of Crawford County. I don't know what shape that will take, but that is something that we are excited about," Fowler said. "To encapsulate why I see that libraries exist, whether academic or public, is to engage people around information."

Before coming to Van Buren, Fowler was head of the Library Systems Department at the University of Arkansas n Fayetteville, from 2006 until 2011 and most recently served as an associate librarian and then university librarian at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Prior to his career in libraries, Fowler was an enlisted soldier where he was a Russian linguist, serving as Platoon Leader with the Arkansas Army National Guard in Iraq.

Fowler earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Science and a master’s degree in Library Science from University of North Texas. He earned his doctor of philosophy degree from Old Dominion University.

"I love the people. Apparently, they liked me enough to offer me the job," Fowler said of Van Buren. "It is so much more than I ever hoped."