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

The School Librarian of the Year Award, in partnership with The Executive Council of Dubai, was established in 2016 to celebrate the inspiring work of the UAE’s best school librarians in public and private schools. The winners receive fantastic prizes, acknowledging the pivotal role they play in creating the next generation of readers.

Thank you for the wonderful nominations from all over the UAE for the School Librarian of the Year Award 2019!
Nominations are now closed.

Check our website again for the names of all the nominated candidates and for the shortlist, which will both be announced here in January.

We look forward to seeing all nominated librarians and the head teachers of their schools at the Award Ceremony on 6 March 2019 during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. More details about this event will be sent to nominated librarians by email.


2018 Winners

Public Schools

Sameh Farouk, First Place (Shared), Bida Al Mutawa School, Abu Dhabi

Sameh Farouk, First Place (Shared), Bida Al Mutawa School, Abu Dhabi

Sameh Farouk, First Place (Shared), Bida Al Mutawa School, Abu Dhabi

Sameh Farouk, along with co-winner Bakhita Almansoori, is school librarian at the Bida Al Mutawa School in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region. The library houses 8,927 titles and serves 252 male and female students from kindergarten to grade 12.

What did winning first place at the School Librarian of the Year Award mean for you and your library?

Winning the School Librarian of the Year Award is a huge stamp of quality for our library. It is the crowning achievement of our years of hard work to bring to life our vision for the Bida Al Mutawa school library, which was opened in 2011.

How do you think the School Librarian of the Year Award raises the profile of school librarians in the UAE?

The School Librarian of the Year Award has become a recognized position among other similar awards linked with reading and culture. I believe that the award will provide competition between librarians that will have a great impact on future generations. I want to say thank you to the people behind the success of this award.

If there’s one recommendation for an activity or resource used to encourage reading for pleasure that you’d like to share with other librarians, what would it be?

Parent involvement is a huge encouragement for children to read. I recommend reaching out to parents with informative sessions and workshops on how to support their children’s reading and also inviting them into the library for reading activities. Student groups like the ‘Friends of the Library’ are also key promoters of reading. They have special privileges and responsibilities, such as checking out books and leading reading activities around school and other children are encouraged to aim for similar privileges through reading more. And finally, trips to nearby public libraries provide a wonderful opportunity for the children to enjoy reading and to find out about newly released books, which are regularly added to the libraries’ collections.

Which 3 books from your school library are your favorite and why?

  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens is one of the best novels I have read. The realistic style of the writer and his wonderful narrative are just some of the reasons why I enjoy this book so much.
  • The Genius Series of Abbas Al-Aqqad, because of how well written it is, the role of each character, and the plot of the book.
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey as it gives readers a plan for success in life.
Bakhita Almansoori, First Place (Shared), Bida Al Mutawa School, Abu Dhabi

Bakhita Almansoori, First Place (Shared), Bida Al Mutawa School, Abu Dhabi

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Bakhita Almansoori, First Place (Shared), Bida Al Mutawa School, Abu Dhabi

Aliaa Ali Said Alketbi, Second Place, Mohammed Bin Rashid Primary School, Dubai

Aliaa Ali Said Alketbi, Second Place, Mohammed Bin Rashid Primary School, Dubai

Aliaa Ali Said Alketbi, Second Place, Mohammed Bin Rashid Primary School, Dubai

Aliaa Alketbi is school librarian at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Girl’s School for Basic Education in Dubai. In addition to the school’s 631 students, teachers and parents, the library also serves universities and schoolchildren from a neighboring emirate.

How did you become a school librarian and was it something you always wanted to do?

When I was an Arabic teacher, I loved books and reading. I always looked forward to this kind of profession where I can teach students and enhance their willingness to learn. The library has a very important role in the development of students in strengthening their culture and building a knowledge-based society.

How do you think the School Librarian of the Year Award raises the profile of school librarians in the UAE?

I believe the honouring of school librarians in the United Arab Emirates through an annual award to credit the best librarian is a great appreciation to our contribution. It also highlights our role in bringing up an educated and innovative generation.

If there’s one recommendation for an activity or resource used to encourage reading for pleasure that you’d like to share with other librarians, what would it be?

I recommend using the smart board and preparing an e-library to develop student’s abilities by providing access to self-development books, online learning resources, and tablet applications. Also, organizing competitions to encourage students to read and develop their skills can expand their horizons through reading.

Amna Salem Alshamsi, Third Place, Shaikha bint Suroor School, Al Ain

Amna Salem Alshamsi, Third Place, Shaikha bint Suroor School, Al Ain

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Amna Salem Alshamsi, Third Place, Shaikha bint Suroor School, Al Ain

Amna Alshamsi is school librarian at the Shaikha Bint Suroor School in Al Ain. The library serves the school’s 1001 cycle 1 and kindergarten students as well as their teachers and parents.

How did you become a school librarian and was it something you always wanted to do?

I was one of the first school librarians in Al Ain – we were appointed by the Ministry of Education in Dubai in 2001. I had a degree in Arabic Language and Islamic Studies and applied to be a librarian immediately when I saw the Ministry’s advertisement because I have always loved literature and poetry. When I started, my library was a classroom at the far end of school, full of old furniture and containing only a small collection of religious and social stories – fewer than 200 books in all. I worked hard to turn it into a beacon of information, knowledge and culture and now it’s the heart of the school.

What did winning third place at the School Librarian of the Year Award mean for you and your school library?

I felt extremely happy and proud of myself. It further enhanced my confidence in my ability to help others. This win also put my school on the map which motivated me to spread more positive energy and encouraged other librarians to participate in the award.

How do you think the School Librarian of the Year Award raises the profile of school librarians in the UAE?

The School Librarian of the Year Award is like a badge of honour for all librarians, in recognition of their efforts and accomplishments and the importance of their profession. Librarians are sometimes marginalised and considered to be ‘idle while employed’, but this image has thankfully changed to a great extent as a result of the efforts of librarians and senior leadership at school and in the education sector.
The award adds strength and significance to the role of school libraries and librarians in the UAE and encourages them to strive to give back to this generous nation.

Can you name 3 of your favorite books in your school library? Please, explain the reasons for your selection?

  • Reflections on Happiness and Positivity by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. When reading this book, you feel the power of happiness and optimism between the lines which is inspiring.
  • Robin Sharma’s Greatness Guide immensely motivates you towards excellence and striving to achieve your goals.
  • Lesley Morrow’s Literacy Development in the Early Years: Helping Children Read and Write is the best reference book for teachers and librarians because it contains programmes and strategies that support reading and writing skills for students.
Maha Ali Alghanem, Special Recognition, Al Wady School for Boys, Al Dhaid, Sharjah

Maha Ali Alghanem, Special Recognition, Al Wady School for Boys, Al Dhaid, Sharjah

Maha Ali Alghanem, Special Recognition, Al Wady School for Boys, Cycle 1, Al Dhaid, Sharjah

Maha Alghanem is school librarian at Al Wady Cycle 1 School for Boys, Al Dhaid. The small library hosts a wealth of events and activities for its 358 students.

How did you become a school librarian and was it something you always wanted to do?

Having always loved reading, I applied with enthusiasm when the Ministry of Education advertised for librarians in 1998, even though I had no relevant degree or any idea what the job involved. I was delighted to become a librarian because the profession is valuable to educational institutions as a source of information and knowledge.

How do you think the School Librarian of the Year Award raises the profile of school librarians in the UAE?

Awards in general are a drive for competitiveness. The School Librarian of the Year Award has the potential to motivate this category of librarians to create unique activities and events suitable for all students.

Private Schools

Veronika Lambova, First place, The Winchester School, Dubai

Veronika Lambova, First place, The Winchester School, Dubai

Veronika Lambova, First place, The Winchester School, Dubai

Veronika Lambova is the primary school librarian for The Winchester School in Jebel Ali which serves up to 1,800 children from Year 1 to Year 6.

How did you become a school librarian and was it something you always wanted to do?

I’ve always loved libraries. One of my earliest memories is attending the local public library during cold winters back in Bulgaria and reading for hours in a warm and cosy atmosphere. I have to admit, it was not my dream job to become a librarian. I become a librarian only when I decided to work for the community school as a parent volunteer and the librarian position was open. It is amazing how much I’ve learned and experienced since then.

What did winning first place at the School Librarian of the Year Award mean for you and your library?

It came as a surprise to me at first and it was a moment, filled with happiness and excitement. The Award belongs to each and every child in the Winchester Library, as they made me the Best School librarian.
Each morning that I enter my library, I hope that I can rise to the expectations of the title School Librarian of the Year.

If there’s one recommendation for an activity or resource used to encourage reading for pleasure that you’d like to share with other librarians, what would it be?

Book clubs, book clubs, book clubs! As many as possible. And let the children lead. Just guide and support them and you will be surprised from the outcome.

Which 3 books from your school library are your favorite and why?

  • “Malala”- A real-life story of Pakistani-born education activist Malala Yousafzai. I believe that children can be influenced by a variety of adults and peers. Role models can be instrumental in developing career and educational goals.
  • “Pippi Longstocking”- The very first book I read in school. I like to call her the original child superhero.  She can pick up horses and thieves and live on her own with a monkey. The main character, Pipi, never went to school, but instead, she traveled the world with her father and it was in the center of most existing adventures!
  • ‘’Smile’’ by Raina Telgemeier-This is an autobiography of Raina’s life in middle school. Many children recognize themselves in the main character and “smile”.  The theme of the book is that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, it’s what matters on the inside. Graphic novels are very popular in the Winchester Primary Library.
Tracy Ammoury, Second Place (Shared), Dubai English Speaking School, Dubai

Tracy Ammoury, Second Place (Shared), Dubai English Speaking School, Dubai

Tracy Ammoury, Second Place (Shared), Dubai English Speaking School, Dubai

Helen Fouch, Second Place (Shared), Dubai English Speaking School, Dubai

Helen Fouch, Second Place (Shared), Dubai English Speaking School, Dubai

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Helen Fouch, Second Place (Shared), Dubai English Speaking School, Dubai

Julie Dotterer, Third place, American Community School, Abu Dhabi

Julie Dotterer, Third place, American Community School, Abu Dhabi

Julie Dotterer, Third place, American Community School, Abu Dhabi

Julie Dotterer is the elementary school librarian at the American Community School located in Abu Dhabi. The elementary library serves 500 students from KG1 up to Grade 5 and houses 12,000 fiction and non-fiction books.

How did you become a school librarian and was it something you always wanted to do?

I have been a teacher since 1976 with literacy always being my passion. Having taught in Kansas City(USA), Berlin(Germany), Kuala Lumpur(Malaysia), Taipei(Taiwan), Izmir(Turkey), Guangzhou(China) and now Abu Dhabi (UAE), I have pursued that passion with vigor in each and every setting. I received my MLIS in 2001…a labor of love while raising two young daughters.

What did winning third place at the School Librarian of the Year Award mean for you and your library?

Winning third place at the School Librarian of the Year award was absolutely fantastic. I am extremely proud for our ACS Abu Dhabi school community—we are an eager group of lifelong readers- the recognition of our passion is terrific!

If there’s one recommendation for an activity or resource used to encourage reading for pleasure that you’d like to share with other librarians, what would it be?

READ! READ! READ! I read aloud to each and every class I teach in the library- no matter what age. My mantra has always been, “Read Until Your Lips Fall OFF!” There is nothing more rewarding than to have a child say, “OOHHH, read it again, Ms. Julie!” I also do a lot of book talks with every class—children need to see that I am a lifelong reader and have favorite books, too. I strongly believe in holding Book Fairs twice per year at the school- we are delighted to work with Early Starters and our school community loves them! For my students in grades 4-5, offering the Battle of the Books as an after school activity has been a huge hit—we are lucky to have such eager readers at ACS Abu Dhabi!

Which 3 books from your school library are your favourites and why?

It’s difficult to list just three!!

  • My absolute favorite book of all time is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. My grandmother gave me my first copy when it was originally published because the author was a dear friend of hers and I was hooked!
  • The Harry Potter series—I think J.K.Rowling brought the love of reading back across the world with this series, to all ages! I read each book along side my daughters, who devoured every page…we all did.
  • Anything written by Kate DiCamillo!! Her picture books are as entertaining as her novels. I absolutely love The Tale of Despereaux—it just takes you away…nothing better than sitting down with a cup of coffee in a comfortable chair with a great book. I love all of her books—such an amazing storyteller!
Heba Abdulhadi, Special Recognition, Yas Private Academy, Abu Dhabi

Heba Abdulhadi, Special Recognition, Yas Private Academy, Abu Dhabi

Heba Abdulhadi, Special Recognition, Yas Private Academy, Abu Dhabi


School Librarian of the Year Award 2019

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.
    • Please give as much information as possible to support your answers.
    • Please send us 3 photos and clear descriptions of reading promotion and information literacy work where appropriate.
    • Please offer evidence of the librarian’s positive impact on teaching and learning.
    • Please 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 will the award be judged?

  • All nominations are carefully assessed and analysed, and the shortlist of finalists is then drawn up. For advice on writing an engaging nomination entry, please refer to the frequently asked questions.
  • A shortlist of finalists in each category will be announced in January. Members of the judging panel will visit the finalists at their libraries during January and February.
  • Nominations will be judged according to the following criteria:
    • Does the library environment promote reading?
    • Does the library make the best use of the resources available to it (including the physical library collection and use of technology)?
    • What is the librarian’s, and the library’s role in raising academic and literacy standards in the school?
    • How does the librarian promote reading for pleasure?
    • The library’s role within the school and wider community
  • The winners will be announced and the awards will be presented on Wednesday, 6 March, during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2019 (1-9 March).

Librarians can be nominated in Arabic or in English.

Prizes

Professional Development for all Nominees

All librarians nominated for the School Librarian of the Year Award are awarded registration to a one-day workshop for school librarians at the Library Conference hosted annually by the American Library Association (ALA) Conference at Sharjah International Book Fair in November 2019.

Winners’ Prizes

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


Winners in each category are also awarded three-day registration to the Sharjah International Book Fair/ American Libraries Association conference in November 2019.

Terms and Conditions

  • The competition is open to all school librarians in any stage of school education.
  • One candidate can be nominated from each library.
  • 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- or herself.
  • Previous applicants who were not awarded first prize in 2017 or 2018 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 entry form at the awards ceremony in March 2019.
  • All nominees will receive a certificate of participation. Please ensure nominee names are spelled correctly on the entry form. Certificates will be distributed at the awards ceremony in March 2019.
  • The deadline for receiving entries for the competition is final. No entries received after the given date will be considered.
  • All nominees will be offered registration to a one-day workshop for school librarians at the Library Conference hosted annually by the American Library Association (ALA) Conference at Sharjah International Book Fair in November 2019.
  • The prize(s) must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. In case a first prize winner is unable to travel to the United Kingdom for any reason, a visit to Dubai Parks and Resorts for 4 people including four nights’ accommodation at a Dubai hotel will be offered as an alternative. The prizes are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
  • Prizes unclaimed within the specified deadline will be deemed to have been forfeited.
  • The first and second-place winners must provide their preferred dates for their visit and the details of their three companions by 17 April, 2019. The itinerary will be arranged by the Emirates Literature Foundation. The trip must be taken by 8 September, 2019.
  • Emirates Literature Foundation does not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries due to the Internet service. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt.
  • Entrants agree, in case they are shortlisted, to the Emirates Literature Foundation’s use of their name and photograph in relation to related publicity material and activities.
      • Schools should be aware that they need to have parental consent for use of student images in any material submitted.
      • By entering for this award, nominators are deemed to have the agreement of the nominated librarian and the head teacher of the school to submit the entry and their approval on the content.

  • By entering for this award, nominees are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions and to agree to be bound by them.
  • Judging decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into with regard to these decisions.

For further details, please click here to read the frequently asked questions.



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.
Entries can be submitted in Arabic or in English, 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 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.

Do

  • 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.

Don’t

  • 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 will the results be announced?

In January, the names of all nominees for the School Librarian of the Year Award will be published on the website and the list of finalists in each category will be also be announced.
Finalists will be notified directly as well by email.
The winners will be announced and the awards will be presented, during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2019 (1-9 March).
All nominees and their head teachers are invited to attend the awards ceremony which will include lunch and a panel discussion.

How are the prizes organised?

The first and second-place winners will give their preferred dates for their visit and the details of their three companions by 15 April, 2019. The itinerary will be arranged by the Emirates Literature Foundation. The trip must be taken by 8 September, 2019.

What our attendees from previous years said

“I am indeed proud to be a resident of this glorious nation and its kind and benevolent Rulers who set new examples of excellence with every passing day. From them I draw my inspiration. Thank you once again for bestowing me with this momentous honour. I promise to work with dedication and the single minded aim to promote the love for books amongst all.”

Veronika Lambova, 1st Place Winner, Private Schools, 2018

“The main lesson I teach is that reading is free and that a book could be a friend whenever and wherever you go.”

Sameh Farouk, 1st Place Winner, Public Schools, 2018

“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

“It was an honour to work with you. I view it as an enriching experience. I thank you all for inviting me and for the organization and patience.”

Shaikha Al Muhairi, Judge

“It is so wonderful that you are able to host this contest each year. It is a great opportunity for us librarians… Being a fighter, I will continue to work and create future readers.”

Ofelia Gulerez, Finalist, 2018

“Librarians are often overlooked and underfunded as was made clear last night. It was delightful to hear such approbation for school librarians.”

Judith Bonner, Nominee

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