Skip to main content

Jackie Hawkins - Library Manager

Written by: Fiona Narburgh
Published on: 30 Jan 2023

Jackie Hawkins - Library Manager at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Think libraries are just places to borrow books from? Think again. We are a cultural hub right in the community, for everyone. Working in a library is as much about having a love of people as it is about a love of reading. 

I’m Jackie and I’m a Library Manager. Gone are the days when you walked through our doors to silence and being told to ‘shush’ if anyone did dare talk. We want our libraries to be full of sounds whether that’s a story telling or play session, a craft workshop, a theatre production, live music event, or the knit and natter group. 

We welcome people through our doors, whatever club they want to get involved with, or to share our ‘warm space’ over a free cuppa and chat. We know we have a role in reducing social isolation and loneliness and helping people to stay warm, especially as we know some of our customers are struggling to heat their homes right now. We’ve built good relationships with our regulars and can signpost them to support they might need such a debt advice and ways to look after their health and wellbeing. During Covid, when our libraires were closed, we were calling our vulnerable customers to make sure they were ok. 

A love of reading can start young but only if children have access to books. There’s a lot of deprivation in this area and books can be a rarity. That’s why we take the library into schools and engage the children directly. We know it works as we see the same children coming into the library with their parents, often for the first time. They are surprised by the range of things we offer. 

Over the years I’ve wondered whether new technology, such as the use of Kindles, might ‘kill off’ printed books, but it hasn’t and the appetite for printed books remains strong. We use social media to widen the range of people we appeal to, offering emagazine and ebooks. One of our libraires is open from 7am to 9pm and it’s all automated, people self-serve after registering. It’s proving popular for those working long or unsocial hours. 

There’s plenty of laughs too in this job. I’ve been asked for books about ‘Wales’ then found out they meant the animal ‘whales’, and books on ‘Wolves’, the football team, not the animal! 

I started in a library straight from school and gradually worked my way up to the role I have now managing five libraries. I’ve had encouragement throughout my career with lots of personal development, supportive management and training. There’s also an academic route in - a degree in Librarianship.

Jackie is featured in our Local GovernmentLocal Gov Career Guide Cover N Career Guide, click here to find out more about working in local government and the wide variety of career options available. 

Click here to view all roles currently available on WMJobs within our Region's Councils.