VAN BUREN — It was a bittersweet moment as Crawford County Library System Director Eva White said farewell to guests gathered at the Van Buren library branch on Sunday afternoon (July 29). Dozens of library supporters, elected officials and other community leaders showed their appreciation for the long-time library leader at a retirement reception held in her honor.
White, who has been the director of the Crawford County Library System for 13 years, has spent most of her life promoting libraries and working in education. Beginning at the age of 17, she worked part-time as a student worker in the library at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. Before taking the job at the Crawford County Library System, she was head of the former North Arkansas Regional Library System in Harrison, which is now disbanded.
Since assuming the directorship in 1999, White has transformed the library system by bringing together the five branches to help strengthen them as a whole.
Donna Parker, past president of the Van Buren Library board, credited White for the growth and success of the county’s library system.
“Eva has been a visionary for the county libraries,” said Parker. “Her work ethic has been phenomenal and without her leadership, we would not have been able to achieve new buildings in Cedarville, Mulberry and Van Buren or be looking forward to future projects such as a new facility in Mountainburg.”
Major improvements were also made to the Alma library under White’s charge.
During the reception, Crawford County Judge John Hall read a proclamation naming July 29 as “Eva White Day” for the county. Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman read a proclamation declaring July 31 as “Eva White Day” for the city. Freeman joked that White had the distinct honor of being the only person to have two separate days named for them by the city and county.
The mayor also expressed his gratitude to White, noting that he and she had formed “a great bond” during his tenure.
“When I stepped in as Van Buren mayor, the tax had just passed [to help fund the city’s new library],” Freeman said. The project was plagued with setbacks he said, including a fire and insurance issues.
Cedarville Mayor Glenanna O’Mara also read a proclamation from her city recognizing White for her tireless efforts. She noted that White had reorganized all five libraries into a county system.
“White has the spirit of a great librarian,” said O’Mara. “Our awards are not nearly enough to recognize her for all she has done.”
Following the awards and proclamations, White took the microphone to thank everyone for attending. She expressed appreciation to past and present members of her staff, as well as to her board of directors who helped make the new library buildings possible.
“In this room are my friends, mentors and members of this very supportive community,” said White. “I could not have done it without you.”
Tara McCleod will replace White as director beginning Wednesday (Aug. 1). McCleod, who currently serves as the youth services librarian, has been with the library system for three years.
When asked about her plans for retirement, White said she didn’t really have any.
“I want to simply do whatever comes my way,” she laughed. “Sleep a little, maybe.”
While she looks forward to retirement, it is with mixed emotions that she retires. She said: “As bittersweet as leaving this job is, I am proud to say that I truly have loved every minute.”