Editor’s note: This is a weekly column that provides readers with insight into the happenings of the four county libraries.

Children’s Librarian Jackie Howarth has played a crucial role in the Botetourt County Library System since 1995. Jackie began her library career working 20 hours a week at the Fincastle Library’s circulation desk and the other 20 hours doing children’s programming. In 1999, she made the move to children’s programming full-time. For the past 24 years, “Ms. Jackie” has educated and entertained countless children who have attended her programs at one of the three branches where they’re offered.

One of Jackie’s biggest projects is the Botetourt County Library’s Summer Reading Program. Over the years, Jackie has done everything from scheduling performers to creating reading logs and making sure there are enough prizes to hand out to participants. This year, she also helped organize the Summer Reading Kickoff Party, which was held at Troutville Park.

During the school year, most of Jackie’s focus is on preschool story hours. Preschool story hours are for ages 2 and up and incorporate stories, songs, and crafts into one fun learning experience. Jackie holds a preschool story hour at Blue Ridge Library on Monday and Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m., at Buchanan Library on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., at Fincastle Library on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., and at Carilion Wellness Botetourt on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. There are no story hours at these locations during the summer, but they will resume August 19.

Jackie offers other programs during the school year, as well. There are after-school crafts, which are usually for all ages. Younger children may need help from a parent or guardian. These crafts are free and materials are provided, unless specified. She also hosts a Lego Club for ages 6 and up at the Fincastle Library. The Lego Club meets one Monday afternoon each month from 4-5:30 p.m. Legos are provided and children may build whatever they would like. Children’s Lego creations are displayed in the library’s foyer until the next club meeting.

There are also several outreach programs that Jackie is an instrumental part of. Over the summer, she does pop-up story times at the Daleville Town Center and the Hollins Mobile Park. These programs bring story time to large groups of children who may not otherwise be able to visit the library. Jackie reads the children a story, provides instruction on how to make a craft, and then children can check out items from the Bookmobile. During the school year, Jackie does story hours for Fincastle Preschool students at the Fincastle Library, for Mill Creek Child Care Center at Buchanan Library, and for the students who participate in the Orchard Hills Church Homework Helps Program in Fincastle.

Jackie was born and raised in Botetourt County. She lives in Troutville with her husband Peter and their dogs, George and Gracie. Jackie has two children and three grandchildren. She is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Fincastle. In her spare time, Jackie enjoys gardening, traveling, painting, and making crafts for the Fincastle Library’s Jingle Bell Jamboree, an annual craft sale held each December.

-Audrey Clark

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