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Monday, February 26, 2024

Scholarly Pursuits

George Carter’s first job paved the way to Willard Public Library

George Carter’s career in library management happened by accident.

Out of high school in 2003, the then-17-year-old accepted a job as a clerk for the San Bernardino County Law Library in California — a temporary position that changed the trajectory of his life.

“It was really interesting work, helping people research the law, so I decided to pursue a career in it,” says Carter, who joined Willard Public Library as director in June. “I’ve been in library management for over 10 years.”

He rose through the ranks in San Bernardino — while earning his master’s in library and information sciences at San Jose State University — and eventually made his way to the Victorville City Library in California as library manager.

Carter moved to Evansville to be closer to his wife’s family in Tennessee and Iowa. He was attracted to Willard because of its history — it dates to 1885 — and growth potential.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be around a library with this much history. It’s got great architecture,” Carter says.

His goal is to update Willard’s technology, especially since those without internet access often rely on the library’s resources. He also hopes to expand programming and add new resources to address job searches and preparedness, genealogy for adults, and literacy — both reading and writing — for children. Willard also hosts virtual author talks, crafting activities, holiday-themed events, and Evansville Shakespeare Players performances.

“I’m just looking forward to what we can do to make Willard a continued presence and community resource to help people find their way,” Carter says.

Photo by Zach Straw

To maintain Willard’s status on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, any improvements must be made with the same types of building materials to maintain its original appearance. Though a challenge, Carter says a bit of maintenance and renovations also are in order, with funding provided by private donations.

“The building itself needs a lot of improvements. We need a new roof. There are problems with the water diversion system here that need to be fixed and redone, we’re having some leaks. All the wood floors need to be refinished,” he says.

As far as Willard’s longtime resident ghost is concerned, Carter has not completely ruled out the possibility of one day meeting the Grey Lady.

“I wouldn’t say I buy into it or deny it. It’s a fun tradition here, and I’m happy to entertain the possibility,” he says.

Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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