Santa Maria City Manager Jason Stilwell named Dawn Jackson as the city’s new library director at the culmination of the city’s recruitment process. She has been serving as interim library director since Jan. 31.
The News-Press asked Ms. Jackson how it felt to be named to the permanent position.
“To me it felt like a natural progression,” she said. “I was, of course, excited to be named permanent director so I can continue the good work the library has been doing and move forward with our goals so it provides continuity which has been really nice … I knew that when recruitment opened that I would apply for it, but it was never a guarantee or promise.”
“I started volunteering in libraries in junior high and during that time I worked with the librarian, and they taught me about shelving and putting together programming. I already had the library bug a little bit but that clenched it. Throughout my teens years I continued to volunteer,” said Ms. Jackson
During college, at Cal State in Bakersfield, her on campus job was at the library in circulation and periodicals. She continued working full time after graduation, until 2007 when she took a break to raise her children. Approximately four years later she returned to working in the Kern County library system, where she worked at the main library and a number of branches, as well as supervising branches.
“I got a lot of experience in a lot of different areas,” said Ms. Jackson.
Ms. Jackson graduated from Cal State University in 1995 with her bachelor’s in English and in 2012 with her master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences, from San Jose State University.
She was hired in 2013 by Santa Maria Library as youth services librarian two and later promoted to librarian three, serving in that position until she was appointed interim library director.
“I believe my varied experience has prepared me well. I have seen the library from different angles. I believe I was well positioned to take the next step into my new role,” said Ms. Jackson.
While serving as interim director, Ms. Jackson oversaw the budget process as well as putting the budget together to be presented to the city and closing out the fiscal year while finishing up those fiscal goals.
Other accomplishments during her interim months included: finishing out the school year as well as numerous grants and library programs.
One of those grants include the Zip Books Grant through California State Library which allows the purchase of items not found in the library through Amazon. “Patrons can request items to order and those items ship directly to the patrons home. When patrons are finished, it is returned to the library, and the library can consider the item to add to their collection. This allows patrons to help shape the library collection; it is very popular with patrons,” said Ms. Jackson.
The News-Press asked Mrs. Jackson about her goals in her new position.
“I think that my goal is to have the library be the top place people think of when they think of where to come for resources and information,” she said.
“I want to focus on getting the word out and getting resources to the community in a safe, equitable and meaningful way. A positive impact on the community is our ultimate goal,” she said. “We want to help the community become more resilient over time.”
Ms. Jackson would like to encourage readers to “look for some continued and new exciting things coming from the library in the future.
“Also September is Library Card Sign up month. If you don’t have a card, come in and sign up for a free card. Library cards are an essential way to access materials and resources for free, saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.”
To those who would argue that libraries are a thing of the past, Ms. Jackson said, “You should come in and see what we have. Libraries are always striving to remain relevant and provide communities with current and useful information. ‘
“Libraries have digital and streaming services and all kinds of things that people don’t necessarily associate with a library. It’s time the library works with the community to reframe what libraries are and discover how relevant we are in our community.”