EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


October 21, 2008

Sara Jaffarian's generosity boosts the book stacks at Haverhill's library

Sara Jaffarian's generosity keeps the library strong

HAVERHILL — Sara Jaffarian has enjoyed a lifelong passion for libraries.

When she was a student at the city's old Hannah Duston School, the public library would send books to the city's schools, and Jaffarian was in charge of distributing books to her classmates.

Today, after having retired from her career as a director of libraries that took her from Haverhill to Greensboro, N.C., Seattle and finally Lexington, Jaffarian at 93 still actively promotes books and reading.

"I can't stop," she said with a smile.

She recently gave "a substantial sum" to the public library to pay for a special area for senior citizens near the Friends' Shop. She refused to disclose the amount, but so far, her gift has funded dozens of magazines — there are two of each so they can be borrowed — and a computer that is reserved for people who are older than 50 or have disabilities.

Her gift also will finance computer lessons for older people and new furniture for the senior citizens area, called the Jaffarian Family Memorial Family Room, according to Susan Katzenstein, assistant director of the library.

This is only Jaffarian's most recent gift to a library. Two years ago, she was photographed with first lady Barbara Bush, who also is a librarian, in New Orleans. She was recognized for making a large donation to the American Library Association, in which she has been active for many years.

Again, Jaffarian politely refused to say how much she gave. The association used her gift to establish the Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming. It pays $4,000 each year to an elementary or middle school library that has conducted an "exemplary" humanities program.

Jaffarian graduated from Bates College with a teaching degree in 1937. Later, she earned two master's degrees — in education from Boston University and library science from Simmons College.

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