Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award Guidelines

"Recognizing outstanding humanities programming" with image of three students

Applications open: February 1, 2023 
Deadline for submission: May 5, 2023
Award notification date: May 25, 2023
Apply online via ALA Apply, our grants management platform


Before starting, read the grant FAQ and carefully review the requirements below.

Contact the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or  

Table of Contents

  1. Award Description
  2. Eligibility
  3. Award Information
  4. Application and Submission Information
  5. Application Review
  6. Award Administration Information
  7. Points of Contact

Award Description

The Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming is an annual award recognizing a school library that has conducted an exemplary program or program series in the humanities during the current school year.

The award is sponsored by the American Library Association’s Cultural Communities Fund in cooperation with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

The intent of the award is to recognize humanities programs that expand student horizons beyond “basic education.” A humanities program can be focused in many subject areas, including but not limited to social studies, poetry, drama, art, music, language arts, foreign language and culture. Programs should focus on broadening perspectives and helping students understand the wider world and their place in it. The humanities program should be initiated and coordinated by the school librarian and exemplify the role of library programming in advancing the overall education goals for the school.


To be eligible, the program must have taken place during the current school year (2022-2023). U.S. school libraries, public or private, that serve children in any combination of grades K-8 are eligible, provided the library is staffed by a state-certified librarian. Libraries are encouraged to self-nominate.

Award Information

The Sara Jaffarian award consists of:

  • $5,000 cash award
  • Crystal award
  • Promotion of the winner through a webinar as a model program for other school libraries

Application and Submission Information

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before applying.

Getting Started

To submit a proposal, go to the online application form and complete the following steps. If this is your first time submitting an application through our grants management system, you may want to first review our How to Apply webpage.

To apply for the Sara Jaffarian award, you must complete the following steps:


1.    Enter Project Name
To begin your application, enter “Jaffarian” into the “Project Name” field.

2.    Complete Project Director Information
To complete Step 2, provide all the information that is requested about the Project Director.

3.    Complete School and Program Details
To complete Step 3, provide all the information that is requested.

4.    Write the Narrative
Before you compose the narrative part of this application, we strongly recommend that you read these guidelines carefully. If you do not, your application is unlikely to be competitive.

  1. Description of the Humanities Program or Program Series. Describe the program or program series, and how the school library and librarian were involved. If the program is ongoing, use the information on programming and activities from the current school year (2022-2023) only. 
    • Include the title of the program or program series
    • Explain the humanities theme or topic emphasized in the program
    • Explain why you chose this program
    • Describe in detail the program or program series
    • Describe the planning process and collaborative relationships involved

  2. Impact of Program or Program Series in the Humanities. Describe the involvement of others in the program. Letters of support (to be uploaded below) should emphasize the humanities program and the impact the program had on students and the school community, not the library program or the librarian. 
    • Identify the number of student participants
    • Describe how the program features higher-order thinking skills through student involvement
    • Describe the benefits that ensued, including how you measured success
    • Describe the involvement and awareness of parents, administrators, and community leaders
    • Explain why you feel the program is exemplary or goes beyond normal school library media programming activities

  3. Relationship of the Program to the Curriculum. Provide evidence of a curriculum component. 
    • Describe the relationship of the program or program series to the school's curricular goals and to the state's learning standards
    • State how the American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner were incorporated into the program
    • Provide evidence of a curriculum component for classroom treatment of the humanities theme or topic emphasized in the program
    • Explain how the program goes beyond the school's standard curriculum requirements and programs

  4. Replicability. Describe how this program might be replicated.
    • Provide examples of how this program or program series might serve as a model or springboard for humanities programming in other schools
    • Identify key components of the program that were essential to the program's success
    • Identify any key components that might need to be modified for use in other settings

  5. Reflection and Unexpected Benefits.
    • What would you change about the program? 
    • What were some unexpected benefits or reactions to the program? 
    • How did this program take the library to the next level in terms of school and community collaboration, programming, and student impact?

5.    Upload Supporting Materials
A.    Upload Letters of Support
Upload letters of support for your application. Two letters of support are required, including one from a district administrator and one from a community organization. Applicants may include up to four letters of support.

B.    Upload Attachments
Provide up to five artifacts of the program. Artifacts must be from programs hosted in the 2022 – 2023 school year. Artifacts may include, but are not limited to:

  • Photographs
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Posters
  • Newsletter articles
  • Program flyers
  • Examples of student-produced work

C.    Provide Video URLS (OPTIONAL)
Provide links to online videos (on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) about your program.

6.    Certify Authorization to Submit Application
An application for the Sara Jaffarian Award is an application for an award from the ALA. ALA is required to ask applicants to identify a certifying official who is authorized to submit applications on behalf of the organization. A certifying official can be an administrator or principal of your school, a school district official or another school official responsible for administering grants and awards at your school or district.

To complete this section, you must enter all the information that is requested.

7.    Review and Edit Your Application

8.    Submit Your Application
Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it at any time by selecting the Submit button. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on May 5, 2023. Applications submitted after that time will be considered ineligible.

Note that once you have submitted your application, you can no longer alter it. The application will then be submitted for review. You will receive an email confirming submission of your application.

Application Review

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Clarity and completeness of the application
  • Excellence, appeal, and innovation of program content and presentation
  • Impact, as evidence by involvement and awareness of parents, administrators, and community leaders (through letters of support) and documentation of an evaluation component
  • Evidence of collaborative relationships in developing the programming
  • Relationship of the programming to the curriculum and evidence of a curriculum component for classroom treatment of the humanities theme(s) or topic(s) emphasized in the program
  • Leadership of the library in planning and coordinating the program
  • Demonstrated involvement of students in a creative, active learning experience
  • Replicability of the program as a model for other schools to adapt or implement

Applicants are encouraged to address questions about the selection guidelines, process and requirements to the ALA Public Programs Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

Review and Selection Process

Each application will be assessed and selected by the Sara Jaffarian award committee. The committee consists of a:

  • Chair, appointed by AASL
  • Chair-elect, appointed by AASL
  • Member of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
  • Member of the Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee (PCPAC)

Award Administration Information

Application deadline: May 5, 2023 11:59 pm (CT)
Award notification: May 25, 2023
Award distributed: July 2023
Webinar with winner: Fall/winter 2023 (based on winner availability)

Points of Contact

If you have questions about the award, contact:

Public Programs Office
American Library Association
1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045