9 November, 2019
So what can I say about this evening?
It all started in the first week of September, when author Aparna Jain, who follows me on Instagram, sent a message asking if I had followed up on her suggestion to participate in the Bandana Sen Library Awards.
She had suggested this in July, but knowing that Abacus is not big on competition, I didn’t bother with it. She said, the organisers are trying to show that libraries are important, enter at least to help spread this message.
This got me.
So when she messaged again, I messaged Kamini Sundaram, the directress of the school, to double check that this is not something we would do. She surprised me by saying, go ahead and apply so that we can learn what library trends are and learn from other schools.
Vincent Vikash, our librarian and I scrambled to put together all the required details and I searched through my haphazard filing to find photos that I may have saved. We had less than a week to put our entry together which needed detailed explanations about the library space, the program and the people involved. We put in our entry at noon on the last day. Then promptly forgot about it.
But when the top 30 schools were mentioned, we were over the moon. 80-100 schools entered and the top 30 was a BIG deal. We patted ourselves on our backs, soaked in the congratulations and thought...that’s it, top 30 is great. Then, Kamini asked me to travel to Delhi and attend the award ceremony...."Meet others who do library work and learn from them", she said.
So off I came to Delhi, hit Bahrisons to pick up some Hindi books for the younger children and rushed back to attend the first Bandana Sen Library Awards which honours school libraries and librarians in India. This is for ICSE and CBSE schools.
It was an evening that was peppered with such special moments, speakers I am in awe of and children who inspired hope. And then lo and behold Abacus Montessori School Chennai won the jurors award....one of the top 5 school libraries in the country.
The top libraries were Cathedral and John Connon, Mumbai( Senior library) Shriram school Delhi (Junior Library Award) Both the top schools in their cities.
Then 3 jury awards: Shikshantar, Delhi Shiv Nadar School, Delhi Abacus Montessori, Chennai
We are the little minnow amongst some very big fish. And the only school flying the Chennai and South India Flag.
The cherry on the top of the big luscious cake was getting one of the best bear hugs ever from Richa Jha, read my posts and you’ll know who she is. Pickle yolk books....that’s her baby and all the great books I’ve reviewed, The Unboy Boy, Vee loves Garlic, The Manic Panic, and Dance of the Wild. And having a big fan girl moment and trying to take clumsy selfies with Paro Anand, author extraordinaire.
All the 30 libraries had done great work, so we are thrilled and humbled and proud and jumping for joy and disbelieving.....but thank you to those of who believed with confidence that we would win something, even though I came to Delhi our of curiosity and an open mind to pick up ideas and soak in all the passion for libraries.