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

NOTE: The deadline for the School Librarian of the Year Award has been extended to 14, March 2021.

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.

Nominations are now closed.

Finalists Announced!

The finalists of the School Librarian of the Year Award 2021 have now been announced. Congratulations to all the nominees! The winners will be announced in a Prize Giving Ceremony on Monday 21 June 2021.


Public School Librarian Finalists

Afra Al Yammahi Al Theet School – Cycle 1 Ras Al Khaimah
Amna Ahmed Obeid Malih Zubaida bint Jaffar school – Cycle 1 Fujairah
Ekramy Ahmad Sayed Secondary Model School Sharjah
Hend Al Ateeqi Madinat Khalifa A School Abu Dhabi
Yasser Mohammed Abdul Mutalib Ibrahim Al Majd Model School Sharjah

Private School Librarian Finalists

Jacqueline O’Brien Jumeirah Baccalaureate School Dubai
Jericho Diano Summit International Schools Abu Dhabi
Jessica Louise Raeside Jumeirah English Speaking School – Arabian Ranches Dubai
Jessica Scherneck German International School Dubai
Jumana Hanoun Al Kamal American International School – Al Azra Sharjah
Raghunathan Manheri Othayoth GEMS Modern Academy Dubai
Shirley Roser & Nawal Farhat Australian International School Sharjah
Sonia Alnahawi Aspen Heights British School Abu Dhabi
Teejay Button Raha International School Abu Dhabi


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

Special Recognition may be awarded to a librarian in either or both categories at the discretion of the Judging Panel. The prize for librarians receiving Special Recognition is a voucher for AED1000 for library books.

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 is the award 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 is announced in May. Members of the judging panel visit the finalists at their libraries during the month of May.
  • Nominations are 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?
      • How did the librarian promote a love of reading during distance learning in 2020?
      • The library’s role within the school and wider community
  • The winners will be announced, and the awards presented in June 2021.
  • Librarians can be nominated in Arabic or in English.

Nomination Form:

Please complete all sections of the nomination form. To complete the nomination form in Arabic, please click here.

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.

Terms and Conditions

  • The competition is open to all school librarians in any stage of school education.
  • Nominations must be received before midnight on 14 March, 2021
  • 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, 2018, 2019 or 2020 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 June 2021.
  • 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 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 15 July 2021. The itinerary will be arranged by the Emirates Literature Foundation. The trip must be taken by 9 September 2021.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 presented in June 2021.

All nominees and their headteachers are invited to attend the awards ceremony which includes lunch and a panel discussion.

How are the prizes organised?

The first and second-place winners must give their preferred dates for their visit and the details of their three companions by 15 April 2021. The itinerary will be arranged by the Emirates Literature Foundation. The trip must be taken by 9 September 2021.

What our attendees from previous years said

“I feel very lucky to have won the award for School Librarian of the Year 2020. I have been wanting to do something bigger with school libraries in the UAE for some time, especially to help with professional training. We need to promote more reading, and better digital literacy skills, and how to work together – these are so important for the future, to preserve our culture, to keep your children safe, and to learn empathy for each other in a shrinking world – and they are some of the things that libraries do best.

So I want to thank the Emirates Literature Foundation and the Executive Council of Dubai for calling our attention to the work that libraries do with this award, and I look forward to doing more myself, to train librarians, and talk to parents, and teach kids, and use this award to help improve libraries wherever I can.”

Alan Jacques, 1st Place Winner, Private Schools, 2020

“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 School librarian of the Year Award was an ambition in the form of a dream and one of my ultimate lifelong goals that I have always wanted to achieve. Winning the Award has etched in my mind and heart a series of beautiful memories that will forever resonate. I am still on cloud nine after winning the award and this has given me the motivation to strive for excellence and more success in the future.”

Suhair Jalal, 1st Place Winner 2020, Public Schools

“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

“I found the process really difficult because the entries were all so good and passionate and the teachers they work with feel so strongly that their school librarian should win. They’re all so professional, carrying out a wealth of initiatives in the schools and the community. In the entries we receive, we are seeing a high degree of commitment and enthusiasm in both government and the private schools.”

Yvette Judge
Chair of Judges, School Librarian of the Year Award 2020

“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

Emirates Literature Foundation
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