Indianapolis middle school wins 2014 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 06/24/2014


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office (PPO)


CHICAGO — An Indiana middle school library has been recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) for its work in creating an innovative genealogy program for eighth-graders.

Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis won the 2014 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming for its “R.O.A.D. (Research, Observe, Analyze, Discover) I Travel” unit, created in 2013 in partnership with the Indiana State Library and Indiana Historical Society.

The school library will receive a plaque recognizing the achievement, a cash award of $5,000 and promotion on ALA websites and communications.

Over one semester of “R.O.A.D. I Travel,” librarians assisted nearly 500 students in researching their family histories online and in historical newspapers on microfilm. The students learned from historians and preservationists how to interpret historical photos and preserve family documents, practicing interview techniques to gather knowledge from relatives.

The unit culminated in a project fair, where students displayed videos, scrapbooks, student-made family cookbooks and demonstrations of unique family hobbies.

“Normal library experiences cannot touch the in-depth scope of the R.O.A.D. unit,” wrote Leslie Preddy, Perry Meridian’s school librarian, who nominated her school. “Students were able to access materials and resources not normally available to middle-school students. Their engagement in extensive research over the majority of the semester was unlike any project in the history of our school.”

The Jaffarian Award selection committee noted the unit’s success in meeting multiple learning objectives, with students learning research skills and gaining an understanding of their family’s past.

“‘R.O.A.D. I Travel’ is an excellent program resulting from a unique collaboration between school library, state library and state historical society,” said Nancy Keane, a school librarian at Rundlett Middle School in Concord, N.H., and chair of the Jaffarian Award selection committee. “We commend the applicant and participants for their innovative use of school and community resources.”

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), the 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 $1.7 million, serving libraries as they serve their communities through the highest quality arts and humanities programs. To contribute to CCF, visit

Read more about the R.O.A.D. I Travel; program:

Watch a series of videos created for ;R.O.A.D. I Travel; by the Indiana State Library:

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.