Two UAE librarians to go to Harry Potter studios
Sheila Seiler after winning the School Librarian of the Year Award during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature; and (right) Alia Khalfan receives her award from Abdulla Al Shaibani, Secretary-General of the Executive Council of Dubai.
Dubai - The role of a librarian is to encourage reading and get young students to fall in love with the habit
Published: Tue 7 Mar 2017, 5:57 PM
Four librarians from Arabic and International schools across UAE were celebrated during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Monday.
The top winners of the first School Librarian of the Year Award, Sheila Seiler from GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi and Alia Khalfan from Al Salma School for Secondary Education in Umm Al Quwain, received a fully-paid trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London for four people and a visit to the British library, a school library in UK, an item of library furniture and a voucher for Dh2000 for library books.
American expat Seiler, who has been a librarian for five years, said the key was to encourage students to read in different languages.
"I would focus on our foreign language, English and arabic sections in the library to meet students wherever they are. Even if they couldn't read or write arabic," said Seiler, who was a teacher for eight years before becoming a librarian.
She added that the role of a librarian is to encourage reading and get young students to fall in love with the habit. "I would tailor to students needs and if they needed a book, I would buy it. In this way, students would recommend books to their classmates and come asking for more books, then the habit spreads around!" said Seiler.
The second place winners, Michelle Plant from JESS Arabian Ranches Secondary and Sheikha Ali from Jewairya Bint Al Harith School in Umm Al Quwain received Legoland Dubai tickets for four people including two nights' accommodation at a Dubai hotel and a voucher for Dh1500 for library books.
Third and fourth place winners received cash vouchers for library books.
Held in partnership with the General Secretariat of The Executive Council of Dubai, the award recognises the most innovative and creative work of librarians in the UAE, which helps reinforce a love of reading in the schools of the UAE.
Principals, teachers, students and parents nominated nearly 100 school librarians from across the UAE, with seven librarians from Arabic schools and seven from international schools qualifying for the final round of judging.
Judges selected finalists on the basis of detailed answers asked to nominators upon their selections. Finalists were interviewed by judges who spoke to school communities from senatorship to students.
Speaking during the announcement, Isobel Abulhoul, OBE, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, said the award aims to recognize school librarianship and acknowledge and support individuals who strive to make a different in children's learning and reading outside the classroom.
"I don't think most of the parents often realize how important school librarians are. We need to recognize potential impact school librarians have all aspects of the curriculum. When children get older it is a fantastic place that students go to when they are working on projects, librarians are the ones who help with the topics they work on."
She added that with millions of children who may not have access to books at home, there comes the librarians role who drive children into falling in love with books.
His Excellency Abdulla Abdul Rahman Al Shaibani, Secretary General of the Executive Council of Dubai called libraries the "unsung heroes."
"They are the ones who work in silence and passion out of the classroom to educate our children and encourage them to read. They are the guardian angels of the souls that fly in the realms of imagination when they hold a book."
He added, "today, we want to stop calling you 'unsung heroes'. We want to publicly honor you for you efforts."
Judging the inaugural competition were Fahad al Mamari, Director of Public Libraries Department at Dubai Culture & Arts Authority; Shaikha Al Mehairi, Cultural Research Centre Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture; Ahmed Al Hashemi from the Executive council of Dubai.
List of winners
First place: Sheila Seiler, GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi
Alia Khalfan, Al Salma School for Secondary Education in Umm Al Quwain
Second place: Michelle Plant, JESS Arabian Ranches Secondary
Sheikha Ali, Jewairya Bint Al Harith School in Umm Al Quwain
Third place: Mona Al Surooji, Ittihad School in Dubai
Vikki Gilzean. Rashid School for Boys, Dubai
Fourth place: Ruqaya Sadiq, Romaitha Al Ansaria Primary School Fujairah
Emma Fisher, JESS Jumeirah, Dubai
Highly Commended: Kate Riddle, Deira International School (Primary), Dubai
Salah Farghly, Al Shabhana School, Abu Dhabi