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.”


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2016 Winner(s)

Friends Seminary

New York, New York

After Friends Seminary teachers presented an overview of the Greensboro sit-ins in classes, the library assigned small student groups different aspect of the sit-in (sources of inspiration, opposition, supporters and outcomes) for further study. Each group chose a compelling historical photograph that captured the essence of their topic and wrote explanatory text to help the reader understand the context of the photo within the larger civil rights movement.

Students then created QR codes linking their images to their texts. The images with QR codes were displayed in the library, and families were invited to view the exhibition, with students acting as docents and talking to visitors about the images and their historical context. More information on the Greensboro Sit-In Exhibit is located here