Arnessa Dowell, the new supervisory librarian at the Fort Lee Community Library, poses with some of her favorite Dr. Seuss books. She said she’s excited to get lots of new programs going for the community. (Photo by Amy Perry, Fort Lee Public Affairs)

FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 11, 2018) -- Arnessa Dowell has been on board since November, and now that the holidays are over, she’s excited to get started bringing programs to the Fort Lee Community Library.

As the supervisory librarian, Dowell said the staff – especially Linda Flock – worked hard to provide opportunities for the community. She wants to build on that and looks forward to doing more.

“In between librarians, Linda doubled the number of programs,” Dowell said. “It was really low, but she brought it up, and my goal is to always do more than my predecessor. I want to stretch the boundaries of what people think can be done.”

With stacks of books placed around her office, Dowell said while she loves reading, it wasn’t the reason she got into the business.

“Most librarians say they love books, but I really love people,” Dowell said. “I love talking to people. I love helping people find out what their dreams and aspirations are. Wanting to help people is why I really got into this profession.

“My mom passed away from breast cancer when I was going through college,” she continued. “I worked at the library and those ladies were so nice and welcoming. They helped me get through a tough time. It made me realize what I wanted to do with my life.”

As the head librarian, she’s responsible for personnel hiring and administrative actions, ordering items, running programs, handling the budget and cataloging items. Dowell started at her library career as a GS-5 cataloger in Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and has advanced through various positions since then. Throughout the years, she’s honed in on her favorite parts of being a librarian.

“I love, love, love, love, love doing programs,” she said, emphasizing her passion. “I really just enjoy engaging with people through the program.

“My second favorite thing to do is cataloging items,” Dowell continued. “It’s a singular, focused task. It’s kind of odd that I like doing it, but it’s the best way to learn what’s in your collection. When someone asks if you about a particular topic, you are more knowledgeable about what is actually in the library.”

As for Fort Lee, Dowell said she looks forward to getting out into the community to show what the library has to offer. Additionally, she hopes people will attend some of their new programs.

“I’m very excited about one of our upcoming programs – a celebration for Dr. Seuss’ birthday,” she said. “I’m super-excited about this program – it’s always an exciting event. We are going to have different stations around the library like reading, decoration and various games.”

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