SCOTCH PLAINS FANWOOD - The first Big Read event launched with a gala evening of music, singing, and dancing. The Scotch Plains Fanwood High School auditorium was alive with sound and rhythm. The award winning SPFH Moonglowers jazz ensemble played some favorite songs, the last tune had a strong Latin rhythm.

Tropyband Orquesta, a 14-piece band played salsa, meringue, and other popular music of Latin America and the Caribbean. Many members of the audience danced in front of the stage, everyone enjoyed the percussions and horns.

Dr. Margaret Hayes, Superintendent of Scotch Plains Fanwood Board of Education, spoke about the Big Read. “A project of this magnitude requires much support and so I am very grateful to the Friends of the Scotch Plains Public Library, The Literacy Volunteers of Union County, and New Jersey City University…”

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Ms. Meg Kolaya, the Director of the Scotch Plains Public Library, addressed the audience and explained further about the program and its partners. Ms. Kolaya introduced Joshua Feist, Program Associate, Arts Midwest. 

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Partners include the Scotch Plains Public Library, Friends of SPPL, Scotch Plains-Fanwood Schools, Literacy Volunteers of Union County, Inc., and the New Jersey City University.

In the audience was Dr. Barbara Feldman, Dean, William J. Maxwell College of Arts and Sciences, New Jersey City University, and Ella Rue, Assistant to Dr. Feldman. New Jersey City University has partnered with SPPL on several initiatives for the Big Read. They connected the library with Tropyband Orquesta for the kickoff concert, in which several students play.

Three of the presenters for upcoming Big Read lectures are professors at NJCU. The Guitars Galore Ensemble will perform in April as part of the Sunday Sounds feature. This past summer, students at NJCU exhibited their award-winning posters of their visions of the American Dream and held art workshops for teens at the library. The Big Read logo was created by NJCU student Ana Paula Rodrigues.

Future Big Read events include lectures, a festival, more music, a poster and essay contest, butterfly talk and release, and a video chat with Julia Alvarez, the author of In the Time of the Butterflies.