Awards, accolades and an invigorating discussion spin magic at the Bandana Sen Library Awards: Inaugural edition 2019

New Delhi: Amidst an erudite gathering of school heads and their library teams, anxiously awaiting the results, the two winning schools and three Jury’s choice categories of the Bandana Sen Library Awards: Inaugural edition were announced. While The Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar won the award for their Junior Library, The Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai received the award for their Senior Library— for excellence in best practices in nurturing learning environments.

In an earnest effort to celebrate libraries and librarians, to facilitate world-class libraries across the country, OneUp Library, Bookstudio and Learning Lab launched one-of-a-kind award this year—The Bandana Sen Library Awards. Envisioned in the memory of Ms. Bandana Sen, it aims to motivate and promote the ‘library’ as a space for nurturing young students’ imagination, critical thinking abilities and the development of collaborative spirit and innovation. The response to this path-breaking award has been extremely encouraging with 100 school entries from 15 states spread across the country.

The evening commenced by remembering Bandana Sen—a pioneer in the field of children’s libraries India by Shalini Advani, Director, Pathways Schools. Having worked with Ms. Sen, Shalini Advani spoke about her distinctive qualities and effervescent persona. A true champion of ‘Libraries’, how she amalgamated various arts with reading, ensuring that reading and learning were fun for children. In an eloquent key note address award-winning children’s author Paro Anand, spoke about the obstacles, challenges and the infinite joy of being a librarian with special focus of what an innovative librarian can achieve if she is a respected part of the team.

Advisor and eminent theatre personality Sanjna Kapoor felicitated the 25 Trailblazer Schools and announced the Community Library Grant to The Community Library Project – Sikanderpur Branch, Delhi. In an endeavor to encourage community libraries who ceaselessly work to build our community’s reading culture, BSLA conferred a grant to nurture their library spaces.

The Jury Appreciation Awards , for programs specifically centered around reading, literacy & library, were presented by veteran educationist Abha Adams to three schools—Shiv Nadar School, Noida (Senior Library), Abacus Montessori School, Chennai (Junior Library) and Shikshantar School, Gurugram (Junior Library) who were a part of the five finalist, further selected from the shortlisted 30 Trailblazer Schools.

For her contribution to Children’s Literature in India, Kavita Gupta Sabharwal, Curator, Neev Literature Festival was awarded the Thought Leader of the year 2019.

An invigorating panel discussion on ‘Is the Library a Place, Person or Program?’ between Kavita Gupta Sabharwal, Co-founder, Neev Children’s Festival; Samina Mishra, writer and filmmaker, and a group of bright children from One Up Library highlighted the ethos of a ‘Library’ today. Moderated by Abha Adams, the discussion delved on questions like: Is Library about a physical space which houses the right kind of books, with requisite modern facilities? or is it about a person called the Librarian or a team of Librarian Teachers who put their heart and soul into guiding children on how to read and what to read, by engaging with them and truly understanding their readers? Or is it about a Library Program, about schools/ school managements who have a vision to raise a generation of readers, ensuring that they leave no stone unturned, to embed a love for reading amongst students, teachers and parents!

The discussion between our esteemed panelists and children focused on questions that are relevant to our School Library system, while also incorporating ideas and thoughts from our most important stakeholders – the children themselves. Children from One Up Library -Uday Vir Khosla, Zaara Madhok, Naayaa Mehta and Nikita Gupta shared their thought-provoking ideas about libraries and what it means to them.

After the awards announcements, senior educationist and author Usha Pandit concluded the evening by reflecting on the remarkable journey of BSLA and the vision ahead.

Speaking on this occasion, Dalbir Kaur Madan, Founder, One Up Library and BSLA initiator said “ For us BSLA is beginning of a conversation on the need for futuristic libraries, celebrating the unsung champions- the ‘Librarians’ and re-defining libraries as exploratoriums of learning. Through these awards, we hope to make a difference, to spruce up the magic of libraries and create role models. It has been an incredible journey and we thank each and everyone who has been a part of it.”

Also present on this occasion were the esteemed Jury including Abha Adams, Dr. Shabbi Luthra, Ruchira Ghosh, Peggy Sood, Dr. Shalini Advani, Donavon Reinsmoen and our eclectic advisors: Paro Anand, Sanjna Kapoor, Usha Pandit, Mahesh Rao, Hemali Sodhi, Himani Dalmia, Kirandeep Kaur, Preeti Gill, Heeru Bhojwani.