For immediate release | July 5, 2018

Arkansas public school system wins ALA school library award for cemetery-based research project

CHICAGO — Danville (Arkansas) Public Schools has been named the winner of the 2018 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming, an annual award from the American Library Association (ALA) that recognizes outstanding library programming in schools serving K-8 students.

The winning program, Tales of the Crypt: Danville’s Living History, used a historic local cemetery as a basis for a multidisciplinary student project about historical persons and the history of the town of Danville.

“Every community has a story to tell through its cemeteries, people and the part it played within the American narrative,” said Library Media Specialist Kelly Klober, the program’s creator. “Our own community is rich in its own history — a history worth preserving. Our students needed to learn the importance of how they too shared a bond with the past and its role in their present and future as citizens of our community.”

Thirty students took part in the afterschool library program during the 2017-18 school year. Activities included:

  • workshops with local historians and genealogy experts;
  • researching historical persons and the town history, along with customs and clothing from the 1840s to 1940s;
  • community service at the cemetery, such as cleaning and repairing tombstones; and
  • a final performance, held at the cemetery, in which students re-enacted the life of a person or family interred there.

The Jaffarian Award selection committee commended Klober and her co-organizers for creating a program that provided higher-order thinking opportunities for students while staying tied to the school’s curriculum.

“Tales of the Crypt: Danville’s Living History was an extremely creative, highly successful way to engage students in their local history while strengthening their research and critical thinking skills,” said Jaffarian Award selection committee member Cassandra Barnett, program advisor for school libraries at the Arkansas Department of Education. “The committee applauds Danville Public Schools for their achievement.”

The Sara Jaffarian Award comes with a $5,000 prize to the school library.

ALA will also offer a free webinar with the creators of the award-winning program in fall 2018. 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 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.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. The office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities to help libraries serve their communities as cultural hubs and centers of lifelong learning. For programming ideas, professional development and grant opportunities, and free, on-demand online courses, visit

About the American Association of School Librarians

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office