For immediate release | June 29, 2016

Quaker day school library wins ALA’s 2016 Jaffarian Award for Greensboro sit-in program

CHICAGO — The library at Friends Seminary, a private Quaker day school in New York City, has been recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) for creating an exceptional program for eighth-graders about the Greensboro sit-ins of 1960.

As the recipient of ALA’s 2016 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming, the Friends Seminary library will receive $5,000 and a plaque recognizing their achievements.

Beginning Feb. 1, 1960, in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Greensboro sit-ins are one of the most well-known nonviolent protests of the civil rights movement. The protest — which began when four African American students entered a local Woolworth department store, sat at a segregated lunch counter and ordered coffee —heightened awareness of the injustices experienced by African Americans.

After Friends Seminary eighth-grade history teachers presented an overview of the Greensboro sit-ins in classes, small student groups were assigned different aspects 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. The librarian collaborated with teachers to scaffold the research process, align resources and facilitate technology tasks.

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.

“The Greensboro sit-In is an example of young people taking action to confront social justice issues in a courageous, yet peaceful, way,” wrote Constance Vidor, director of library services at Friends Seminary, in her Jaffarian Award application. “It was perfect for a mosaic approach, with each student taking ownership of a small, manageable sub-topic, all of which taken together produced a substantive analysis of the Greensboro Sit-In. …This topic gave our students practice thinking critically about images, primary sources, and integrating textual and image-based information.”

The Jaffarian Award selection committee commended the program’s interactive and multimedia approach and its involvement of parents, community members and the larger school community.

“The Greensboro Sit-in Research Exhibit is a fantastic example of how school libraries partner with classrooms to take learning experiences to a new level,” said Schenell Agee, supervisor, library media programs and research with Prince William County Schools in Manassas, Virginia, and chair of the 2016 Jaffarian award selection committee.

A free webinar with the creators of the award-winning program will be offered at 1 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. More information and a registration link will be available on the Programming Librarian website in the coming months. To receive an announcement when registration opens, please sign up for the Programming Librarian e-newsletter.

Named after the late Sara Jaffarian, a school librarian and longtime ALA member, ALA’s Jaffarian Award was established in 2006 to recognize and promote excellence in humanities programming in elementary and middle school libraries. It is presented annually by the ALA Public Programs Office in cooperation with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The award is selected annually by a committee comprising members of the ALA Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee (PCPAC), AASL and the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).

Funding for the Jaffarian Award is provided by ALA’s Cultural Communities Fund (CCF). In 2003, a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities kick-started a campaign to secure the future of libraries as cultural destinations within the community. Since then, CCF has grown to more than $1.9 million, serving libraries as they serve their communities through the highest quality arts and humanities programs. To contribute to CCF, visit

About the ALA Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives.

About the American Association of School Librarians

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field. AASL offers a rich variety of publications on topics essential to school librarians everywhere.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 57,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office