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logo-tec-smaSchool Librarian of the Year Award logo-sloy-sma

We have concluded the 2023-2024 edition of this competition. The 2024-2025 edition will be launched later this year.

Is your school librarian a literary hero, tirelessly encouraging pupils to love books and inspiring them to read for pleasure? Then nominate him/her for the School Librarian of the Year Award. Held in partnership with The Executive Council of Dubai, the awards recognise the UAE’s best school librarians in public and private schools. The winners are not only rewarded with fabulous prizes, but also the knowledge that all their hard work in creating the next generation of readers does not go unnoticed and is truly appreciated.

Rules of Entry

Who can be nominated?

Anyone who is working in a school library in the UAE. The award will recognize outstanding and exemplary work by a school librarian covering any age groups up to age 18.

Who can nominate?

Nominations are invited from colleagues, head teachers, students, governors, parents and anyone with an interest in school librarianship. We acknowledge that librarians can be unsung heroes and therefore self-nominations are also welcome.

How to nominate?

Submit your entry by completing all sections of the nomination form below, and please note:

  • Give as much information as possible to support your answers.
  • Send us 5 photos and clear descriptions of reading promotion and information literacy work where appropriate.
  • Offer evidence of the librarian’s positive impact on teaching and learning.
  • Submit only one entry per librarian.
  • Only the first nomination received for a librarian will be considered, so please make sure it includes all relevant information.

How is the award judged?

All nominations are carefully assessed and analysed, and the shortlist of finalists is then drawn up. The shortlist of finalists in each category will then be announced in December 2023. Members of the judging panel visit the finalists at their libraries during the month of January 2024.

Nominations are judged according to the following criteria:

  • What is the librarian’s role in raising academic and literacy standards in their school?
  • How has the librarian positively influenced reading habits within their school? Including Reading for Pleasure.
  • How does the librarian make the best use of available resources (including the physical library space, the collections and technology)?
  • What projects or innovative ideas has the librarian introduced within the school to support the students and wider community?
  • How has the librarian involved or engaged others in their initiatives and projects? This may include outreach or involvement with: parents, families, child carers, other staff and librarians within their school and beyond, the wider community in the UAE and international.
  • Explain how the librarian supports the creative talents of the students (encouraging them to participate in competitions, attend education sessions, talks or workshops).
  • Why do you feel the librarian deserves this Award?

Please explain the reasons for the nomination, based on the work and achievements that took place from September 2022 to November 2023.

The winners will be announced, and the awards presented in February 2024. Librarians can be nominated in Arabic or in English. For advice on writing an engaging nomination entry, please refer to the frequently asked questions.

For advice on how to make your nomination stand out, please watch this video by Dr Kristine Stewart, Chair of Judges for The School Librarian of the Year Award.

You can find a list of the 2023 winners and 2024 finalists here.


Professional Development for all Nominees

All librarians nominated for the School Librarian of the Year Award are provided with professional development opportunities.

Winners’ Prizes

Each of the following prizes is awarded to a librarian in a public school library and to a librarian in a private school library:

School Librarian of the Year
Best Use of Resources
Best in Innovation
Best in Community Involvement
  • Professional Development Opportunity involving travel abroad (only for the winner)
  • AED 4000 Furniture voucher
  • AED 2000 Book Voucher
  • Professional Development Opportunity
  • AED 2000 Furniture voucher
  • AED 1000 Book Voucher
  • 4 day tickets to Dubai Parks and Resorts/Yas Island
  • Professional Development Opportunity
  • AED 2000 Furniture voucher
  • AED 1000 Book Voucher
  • 4 day tickets to Dubai Parks and Resorts/Yas Island
  • Professional Development Opportunity
  • AED 2000 Furniture voucher
  • AED 1000 Book Voucher
  • 4 day tickets to Dubai Parks and Resorts/Yas Island

Key Dates

Nominations open 11 September 2023
Nominations close 13 November 2023
Professional Development Workshop September 2023
Finalists Announced December 2023
Judging Visits 8– 18 January 2024
Award Ceremony February 2024

Terms and Conditions

  • The competition is open to all school librarians in any stage of school education.
  • Nominations must be received before midnight on 13 November, 2023.
  • One candidate can be nominated from each school library in schools which have separate libraries for each stage.
  • The librarian and the head teacher must be aware of and approve of the nomination.
  • Any librarian can nominate him/herself.
  • Previous applicants who were not awarded first prize from 2017 to 2023 are welcome to enter again.
  • Only one nomination will be accepted per librarian and once submitted, nominations may not be updated.
  • Joint nominations must be submitted as a single entry, and the prize would be shared by nominees should they win. Joint nominations are allowed only where the librarian role is performed as a job-share partnership where each librarian holds equal status.
  • To be considered for the award, nominees must be employed at the same school listed on their nomination at the awards ceremony in February 2024.
  • All nominees receive a Certificate of Participation. Please ensure nominee names are spelled correctly on the entry form. Nominated librarians will receive the Certificate of Participation automatically once the registration process is done.
  • The deadline for receiving entries for the competition is final. No entries received after the given date will be considered.
  • The prizes must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. The prizes are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
  • For any professional development opportunity involving travel abroad ELF will cover the costs of the flights, accommodation, transfers (to the hotel, airport, and site of the professional development opportunity), and provide a meal allowance.
  • The trip is not valid on public holidays.
  • Prizes unclaimed within the specified deadline will be deemed to have been forfeited.
  • The furniture and book vouchers of the winners are non-refundable and cannot be exchanged for cash in part or full. Also, Emirates Literature Foundation is not responsible if the Gift Vouchers are lost or damaged.
  • The School Librarain of the Year Award winner must provide their preferred dates for their visit by 4 March, 2024. The itinerary will then be arranged by the Emirates Literature Foundation. The trip must be taken by 30 August, 2024.
  • Entrants agree, in case they are shortlisted, to the Emirates Literature Foundation’s use of their name, photograph, and any video footage of them in relation to related publicity material and activities.
  • Judging decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into with regard to these decisions.
  • By entering for this award, nominees are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions and agree to be bound by them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the award categories?

The School Librarian of the Year Award is awarded in two categories:

  • Public schools: for school librarians working in public (government) schools in the UAE
  • Private schools: for school librarians working in private schools in the UAE

Entries will be judged against other entries in the same category. However, the category is defined by whether the school is public or private, regardless of the language of the entry.

What language should the nomination be submitted in?

Entries can be submitted in Arabic or in English. However, the award category is defined by whether the school is public or private, regardless of the language of the entry or of the language(s) supported in the school library.

What type of information should be included in the nomination entry?

The nomination entry consists of the response to the three questions in the entry form as well as three photos of the library. The entry should include as much information as possible to answer the questions fully and describe the award nominee and services implemented. All instructions should be followed carefully.

Statements should generally be supported with corroborating details, such as the measurable impact on learning, reading habits and student engagement; descriptions of specific creative projects; innovative use of resources; collaboration in the school and wider community; library promotion and so on. Personal comments and testimonials can also be included in the answers.


  • Bear in mind that the shortlist is determined on the basis of the written submission plus photos.
  • Make sure the librarian reads and approves the submission before it is sent in.
  • Make sure submissions are complete, clear and concise.
  • Make sure that each point in the submission shows what an amazing difference the librarian makes at their school and is directly relevant to how the nominee executes their core mission as a librarian and to the specific question being answered.
  • Select photos of library events in action, of enthusiastic students and attractive displays.
  • Share examples of the librarian’s enthusiasm and their passion to see children reading for pleasure, as well as serving the needs of the curriculum, within the boundaries of budget and management of the school.
  • Demonstrate how the library offers a safe and welcoming learning environment, and show evidence of involvement by the children/students – displays, book reviews, suggestions for book purchases being taken into account.
  • Describe the librarian’s knowledge of children’s literature, their awareness of the school curriculum, and how they work closely with colleagues to deliver a positive experience for all.
  • Show how the librarian makes every attempt to work with school management and to gain their support for initiatives.
  • Explain how the library is inclusive, offering materials for all students including those who require learning support.
  • Highlight engagement with others in the community – volunteers (including parents), school support staff and involvement in literature-related events (including Emirates Literature Foundation), especially promotion of the children’s and school events and competitions.
  • Let us know how technology is considered – is there a balance between traditional forms of reading and information-finding as well as embracing new ideas and technologies? Librarians should always be keen to innovate wisely to motivate readers.
  • Write and save the submission in a separate file and then paste it into the nomination form below.


  • Include contact information in the answers to the nomination questions. Contact information should only be entered in the relevant fields on the form.
  • Include details not directly relevant to the submission, such as the librarian’s age, nationality, address, social media tags, list of job positions, courses attended, etc.
  • Mention degrees/certifications/awards unless you can succinctly describe how they contribute to helping you excel as a librarian.

May I submit additional documents to support the nomination via email?

All required information must be submitted via the online entry form. Nominations will be judged solely on the contents of the online entry form and any material sent by email will be excluded.

Will multiple nominations increase a librarian’s chances of winning?

Multiple nominations are not allowed. Only one nomination will be accepted per librarian and once submitted, nominations may not be updated. Only the first nomination received for a librarian will be considered, so please make sure it includes all relevant information.

How are the results announced?

In December, the names of all nominees for the School Librarian of the Year Award are published on the website and the list of finalists in each category are also announced. Finalists are notified directly as well by email.

The winners are announced, and the awards are presented in February 2024. All nominees and their headteachers are invited to attend the awards ceremony which includes lunch and a panel discussion.

Nomination Form

We have concluded the 2023-2024 edition of this competition. The 2024-2025 edition will be launched later this year.

What Our Attendees From Previous Years Have Said

“These librarians have played an essential role in promoting literacy amongst students, and enriching their knowledge and education, and they have all gone the extra mile during these challenging circumstances to reinforce education standards and enable students through knowledge.”

Shumous Majid Bin Faris, Strategic Development Advisor at the General Secretariat of Executive Council of Dubai

“It is an awfully sad misconception that librarians simply check books in and out. The library is the heart of a school, and without a librarian, it is but an empty shell.”

Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Author

“School librarians are in a unique position to influence children to read books for pleasure, and we know this is one of the most important gifts we can give the next generation. Reading for pleasure enhances their literacy, their comprehension of the world, and enhances their critical thinking skills. It is important not only for their education, but also for the huge lifelong wellbeing benefits it can bring. Every year I am impressed by the school librarians who enter, but never more so than this year. In the face of insurmountable and severely limiting circumstances brought on by the pandemic, these individuals have made heroic efforts to bring the joy and solace of books to the children in their schools.”

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation

“All librarians adore their jobs and they’re not particularly highly paid and they aren’t generally in the limelight. So it’s very special that in this beautiful building, we have had this ceremony where everybody shows just how grateful we are for all their hard work and enthusiasm.”

Jacqueline Wilson, Author

“As a librarian, when you have the School Librarian of the Year Award, it gives you a way to make your career and to develop your performance. I am always thinking about the best ways to encourage students. The Emirates Literature Foundation always supports us with workshops, ideas, and competitions. So, it’s the best way to have the goals of the library and to improve ourselves. Thank you for this innovative and creative family at the Emirates Literature Foundation.”

Jumana Hanoun, 1st Place Winner (2023), Private Schools

“I think the role of the librarian is multi-faceted. You have so many different things that you are required to do; but the thing we keep coming back to is that passion for reading, that love for reading. For so many children, a library and a dedicated librarian is the critical ingredient in actually making it happen, that first spark of love for a story.”

Lucy Strange, Author

“The School Librarian of the Year is a very important competition because it enhances the skills of all librarians around the UAE to achieve more and do more for our students. In addition, it reminds us that we have a master key between our hands for this generation’s future. It was lovely participating and meeting some authors today. I would like to participate every year!”

Doaa Mashlah, Special Recognition Winner (2023), Public Schools

“It was inspiring to witness the nominees’ tireless efforts in fostering a love for reading and learning among students, using creative approaches and modern technologies. Each nominee showcased their unique strengths, making the selection process both challenging and rewarding. I am grateful to have been a part of recognizing these exceptional professionals who go above and beyond to create enriching environments for students to thrive. The award reaffirms the transformative impact of school librarians and their contributions to nurturing a lifelong love of knowledge. ”

Dr. Ranjini Syam, School Librarian of the Year Award Judge

Emirates Literature Foundation
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