Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming

About the Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming
The purpose of the Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award is to recognize, promote and support excellence in humanities programming in elementary and middle school libraries that serve children K-8. To promote and encourage other school libraries interested in developing outstanding humanities programs, a professional development/training opportunity will be presented by the ALA Public Programs Office, in consultation with the Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee and the American Association of School Librarians.

Sara Jaffarian, a retired school librarian, was a longtime ALA member. She began her career as a librarian in the public school system of Quincy, Massachusetts. She later served as the Director of Libraries for the Greensboro Public Schools in North Carolina and the Supervisor of Libraries for the Seattle Public Schools in Washington. In 1961, she returned to her home state to design and develop a school library program in Lexington, Massachusetts, where she became the Coordinator of Instructional Materials and Services.

Ms. Jaffarian received her undergraduate degree in social studies at Bates University and her library science degree at Simmons College. She also held a master’s of education from Boston University.

Sara Jaffarian had a long history of leadership in the library profession. She held numerous offices and committee appointments, including ALA Councilor, board member and recording secretary of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), member of the Newbery-Caldecott Awards Committee, and president of the Massachusetts Association of School Librarians. Under her leadership, an Encyclopedia Britannica School Library Award was given to the Lexington Public Schools in 1964.

“Throughout my career, I worked in many capacities to promote the idea that every school needs a library,” said Ms. Jaffarian. “In order to have an excellent school, there must be an excellent school library! To achieve this, more is needed than just books and other materials — curriculum-related programming has the power to take a school library to the next level, exciting students, bringing in parents, and getting the attention of administrators and community leaders. I’m delighted to establish an award that will not only recognize excellence in this arena, but also provide training for school librarians across the country.”


Administered by:

Public Programs Office logo

Award and Frequency

An annual award of $5,000, and the promition of the winner as a model program at a training opportunity for other school libraries.
This award is given out on an annual basis.


Any elementary or middle school (public or private) library or any school library program in the United States that serves children in any combination of grades K-8.

Application Instructions

Guidelines for the award are here (a Word document downloads)

Application for the Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award is in the form of a self-nomination submitted to the Sara Jaffarian Award Selection Committee by an elementary or middle school library in the United States, on a humanities program or program series presented during the prior school year. The application form is here. (a Word document will download)

Contact Information

Ms. Colleen C. Barbus (Staff Liaison, December 20, 2010, to January 1, 2050) -
Work Phone: (312) 280-3277
American Library Association
225 N Michigan Ave Ste 1300
Chicago, IL 60601-7616

Samantha Oakley (Staff Liaison, July 1, 2016, to January 1, 2050) -
Work Phone: (312) 280-5287
American Library Association
225 N Michigan Ave Ste 1300
Chicago, IL 60601-7616

Displaying active committee roster as of 10/19/2021. Last retrieved on 10/19/2021. Members can log in to view full contact information for committee members.

Selection Criteria

• Excellence, appeal and innovation of program content and presentation.
• Impact, as evidenced by involvement and awareness of parents, administrators and community leaders. (Letters in support of nomination are encouraged).
• Evidence of collaborative relationships in developing the programming. (e.g., parents, teachers, administrators, humanities scholars, community groups).
• Relationship of the programming to the curriculum and evidence of a curriculum component for classroom treatment of the humanities theme(s) or topic(s) emphasized in the program.
• Replicability of the programming and the winner’s willingness to participate in a conference program or online meeting to showcase the winner as a model for excellence for other school libraries.