SALT LAKE CITY — Safi S. M. Safiullah, manager of the Salt Lake City Public Library’s Marmalade Branch, was named Librarian of the Year by the Utah Library Association.
Safiullah was recognized Thursday for his career in community engagement and lifelong support of libraries and education around the world.
Soon after joining the city library staff in 2002, Safiullah began creating partnerships with schools, grass-roots organizations and diverse communities across Utah to initiate cultural programming at the library.
His efforts have sparked dialogues on a wide array of topics — including religious pluralism, redistricting Utah, race and gender issues, police violence, and Islamophobia — to enlighten Utahns on topics of current importance.
Most recently, in partnership with KRCL and Utah Humanities, Safiullah organized an event about “fake news,” bringing together journalists and experts.
Born in rural Bangladesh, Safiullah had a love for community engagement deeply ingrained in him from a very young age, according to a news release. He joined the University of Benghazi in Libya on a cultural exchange scholarship, and received an undergraduate degree in history.
Safiullah received his master’s degree from the University of Manitoba in Canada before earning his doctorate in Middle Eastern history from the University of Utah, where he now teaches as an adjunct assistant professor. He also serves on various committees in the Utah Library Association, American Library Association and Asian Pacific American Librarians Association.
In presenting the award, Tommy Hamby, the library’s adult services coordinator, said, “I was touched — but not surprised — to learn that Safi is converting his childhood home in Bangladesh into a library to provide resources and increase literacy among children who attend the school he founded with a few friends in 1976.”
Safiullah was in 10th grade at the time, walking 3 ½ miles to a neighboring village every day to attend school, and initiated the school building project to make education more accessible to his village.