Nahant Library director closes chapter

Nahant Public Library Director Sharon Hawkes looks through the herbarium which was created by Florence “Miss Flossie” Johnson, a Nahant school teacher, and her pupils in 1897. (Spenser R. Hasak)

NAHANT — Public Library Director Sharon Hawkes will step down from her position Tuesday, Sept. 19 after more than seven years serving as the town’s librarian-in-chief.

Residents gathered at the Nahant Public Library last week to celebrate Hawkes’ tenure as library director and wish her a relaxing retirement, the start of which is slated for Sept. 30. Hawkes was also given a scrapbook full of memories from her time in Nahant, which included notes of gratitude from library patrons.

“It was a beautiful night to say goodbye to the most fantabulous library director,” former Library Board of Trustees Chair Chris Stevens said. “We will miss you, Sharon, and we can not thank you enough for all you’ve done for the library and its patrons. Enjoy retirement, enjoy life, and laugh a lot wherever you go.”

Hawkes left her position as the executive director of the Lenox Library to take the helm of the Nahant Public Library in December 2015. Since then, she led a number of community-outreach events, educational programs, and worked to complete phases one and two of the 1895 library’s renovation.

Still, Hawkes said she was most proud of her efforts to unite the community with reading and learning. This includes the library’s “Overcoming Racism” reading and discussion on race in partnership with the Nahant Village Church in August.

“I’m proud of how we were able to bring people together from all different facets of this community to all join together and talk about things that interested them to get involved with programs and exhibits,” Hawkes said. “We’ve been inside the library and outside the library. We have a little free library down at the beach and a ‘Story Stroll’ up in the park. We have tried during my tenure to go where the people are and bring them information on ideas that were of interest to the community.”

During her tenure, Hawkes also led four separate book- and document-digitization projects, and founded a program called Dementia Friendly Nahant, which served as a cognitive-health resource for Nahant’s senior community and caretakers.

The Nahant Public Library’s new director, Nori Morganstein, will start her new role Tuesday, Sept. 19, with Hawkes staying on as an advisor until Sept. 30.

“We’re excited to have her come on and take the library to the next step,” Hawkes said. “We have the bare bones of the next cycle’s five-year plan ready to go, and she will work with the staff and the board to flesh out the first-year annual plan. It will center on the public’s love of nature, history, and interest in technology.”

Hawkes’ final day at the library will coincide with her final community event — Nahant Public Library’s Let Freedom Read Silent Read-in at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30. The event, in which residents will sit on lawn chairs reading books, was created in solidarity with Boundary County Library Director Kimber Glidden, who resigned last September after she was threatened by book-banning activists.

“I still have a keen interest in what’s going on with book banning around the country, so I’m not done being involved and interested in what libraries are about and what they can do for their communities,” Hawkes said.

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