Dubai: An Egyptian man and two women — including a former Bulgarian air-hostess and a former Emirati secretary — were awarded as the best school librarians in the UAE on Monday evening.
The librarians were honoured at the second edition of The School Librarian of the Year Award held as part of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The award this year received 77 entries and had 17 finalists from 15 schools, said Yvette Judge, chief operating officer of Emirates Literature Foundation. Their enthusiasm and passion for making reading fun even with limited resources made them the winners, she told Gulf News. The winners and the finalists were honoured by Abdulla Mohammad Al Basti, Secretary-General of the Executive Council of Dubai and best-selling children’s author Jacqueline Wilson
Veronika Lambova of The Winchester School in Jebel Ali, Dubai won the first place in the private school category while the same in the public sector was shared by Sameh Farouk and Bakhita Almansoori of Bida Al Mutawa School in Al Dhafra region in Abu Dhabi.
The three of them won an all-expense paid trip for four people to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter, a visit to the British library; vouchers for Dh4,000 for library furniture and vouchers for Dh2,000 for books for the library.
Lambova, a former air hostess, said she left her previous job and became a librarian as she wanted to give back to the community through the future generation.
“I’m an accidental librarian who fell in love with the job within months. What it took me to win this prize is first of all a love of reading, then the love for children and then my love for spreading the love of reading all over, including in the community,” said the Bulgarian mother of two.
She said she makes use of each and every opportunity to make reading fun and enjoyable for the primary students in her school such as organising book clubs and reading club activities on a daily basis.
Farouk, a librarian for 10 years, said his efforts to encourage students in the boys’ section read included making better facilities for searching out books quickly and by making them volunteers in the library’s activities.
Al Mansoori, who was earlier an Islamic education teacher, had also worked as a secretary in the school. However, for the past three years, she has been working as a librarian for the girls’ section, devising ways to make reading interesting for the students.
The winners were excited that they would be able to visit the Harry Potter studio.
The second place winners were Tracy Ammoury and Helen Fouch of Dubai English Speaking School, and Aliaa Ali Saeed Alketbi from Mohammad Bin Rashid School for Basic Education, Cycle 1 — Girls in Dubai. They won tickets to the Dubai Parks and Resorts for four people including two nights’ accommodation at a Dubai hotel and vouchers for Dh1,500 for library books.
Third place winners Julie Dotterer of American Community School in Abu Dhabi and Amna Salem Al Shamsi of Shaikha Bint Suroor School, Al Ain, won Dh1,500 vouchers for library books
Heba Abdulhadi of Yas Private Academy in Abu Dhabi and Maha Ali Alghanem from Al Wady School for Boys, Cycle 1, Al Dhaid in Sharjah, received special recognition and vouchers worth Dh1,000 each for library books.
All three winners in each category and the finalists also received registration to the American Libraries Association conference which will be held alongside the Sharjah International Book Fair in November 2018.
Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, said the award aims to recognise and celebrate the librarians whose role in shaping the future of children and making a difference in their school often goes unrecognised.
“A librarian can change a non-reader to someone who loves books. It was recognised that perhaps you don’t always get into the spotlight. But this award does that. The team of judges travelled the whole length and breadth of the UAE [to select the winners].”