Sixty-three-year ALA member establishes the Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming

Contact: Joan Claffey

Director, Development Office

For Immediate Release

November 15, 2006

Sixty-three-year ALA member establishes the Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming

CHICAGO - The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the establishment of a new award which will recognize and promote excellence in humanities programming in elementary and middle school (K-8) libraries: The Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming, named for Sara Jaffarian, who has made a donation to ALA's Cultural Communities Fund in order to establish the award.

The Sara Jaffarian Award will be given annually to a school library (K-8, public or private) that has conducted an exemplary program or program series in the humanities. The winning school library will be given a $4,000 award as well as a plaque recognizing their achievement. Award funds will support the purchase of programmatic materials and/or the development of additional programming by the school library.

Jaffarian, a retired school librarian, has been a member of ALA for 63 years. She began her career as a librarian in the public school system of Quincy, Mass. 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, Mass., where she became the Coordinator of Instructional Materials and Services. Jaffarian received her undergraduate degree in social studies at Bates University and her library science degree at Simmons College. She also holds a master's of education from Boston University.

Jaffarian has 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 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."

In addition to recognizing an exemplary program annually, the Sara Jaffarian Award will help establish models for programming excellence for other school libraries. Each year, the winning library will be asked to participate in a conference program or other professional development opportunity in order serve as an example to others interested in developing outstanding humanities programs in school libraries.

"On behalf of the ALA Executive Board, I'm pleased to thank Ms. Jaffarian for her generous and thoughtful donation. We are delighted that she has chosen ALA as a fitting organization with which to establish this legacy," said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. "I know that the Sara Jaffarian Award will have a terrific impact on recognizing and promoting excellent humanities programs in school libraries for many years to come."

The award will be administered by the ALA Public Programs Office, which provides leadership, resources, training, and networking opportunities that help all types of libraries develop and host cultural experiences for adults, young adults, children and families. Awards will be made by a selection committee comprising ALA members, including representatives from the Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee (PCPAC) of the ALA Public Programs Office and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

Funds donated for the establishment of the Sara Jaffarian Award will support the ALA Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment established to provide long-term support to help all types of libraries bring communities together through cultural programming. Per the terms of a 2003 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), funds donated to CCF will be matched by the NEH on a 1 to 3 basis. For more information about the Cultural Communities Fund, visit

The first Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming will be announced in June 2007. Further details, including guidelines and application information, will be available in early November 2006 and posted online at