MONTCLAIR N.J. — Essex County libraries are joining in its first countywide reading program this April. Funded primarily through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and presented by Essex County Library Directors (ECLD), the Big Read seeks to broaden understanding of the world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.
The NEA Big Read in Essex County will focus on Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. A professor at Rutgers University-Newark, Jones has agreed to participate in three talks.
The Big Read Kick Off Celebration will be April 2 at 2 p.m. at the Livingston Public Library and feature azz music, light refreshments, and a talk by Jones.
On Aptil 19 at 7 p.m. Jones will be part of the With the Author series at Montclair Public Library. Jones will discuss her novel Silver Sparrow. With the Author is presented in partnership with Watchung Booksellers to promote local authors with the intent of fostering a love of reading and a love of literature. Book will be for sale following the talk.
On April 26 Jones will take part in an Administrative Luncheon at 12 p.m. at John Cotton Dana Library, Rutgers University-Newark. Jones will speak at the luncheon for administrative assistants in Newark. Copies of Silver Sparrow will be gifted to attendees. Space is limited and registration is required.
Kicking off during National Library Week in the first week of April, libraries will host book discussions and other cultural and educational programming surrounding the themes of Silver Sparrow. Events also include a spoken word events, book discussions led by Rutgers-Newark MFA candidates, and conversations about relationships and the politicization of hair.
“Sharing one book renews interest in literature and sparks meaningful conversation, but the cost of such a campaign makes it daunting for the average library,” said Chelsea Dodd, Information Services Supervisor at Montclair Public Library. “With threats to NEA funding under the new presidential administration, it’s important that we take advantage of grants like this now.”
To encourage participation across all ages, public libraries will also use picture book Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang, and young adult title Tell Us We’re Home by New Jersey author Marina Budhos. Budhos has agreed to speak with locations to be determined.
John Cotton Dana Library of Rutgers University-Newark, along with fifteen public libraries in Essex County will partner to facilitate and host various events throughout The Big Read. These libraries include: Belleville Public Library, Bloomfield Public Library, Caldwell Public Library, Cedar Grove Public Library, East Orange Public Library, Glen Ridge Public Library, Livingston Public Library, Maplewood Public Library, Millburn Public Library, Montclair Public Library, Newark Public Library, Roseland Public Library, South Orange Public Library, West Caldwell Public Library and West Orange Public Library.
For more information and the full list of events, visit essexcountybigread.org.
About The Big Read
Managed by Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read offers grants to support innovative community reading programs designed around a single book. The program supports organizations across the country in developing community-wide reading programs, which encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Organizations selected to participate in the NEA Big Read receive a grant, access to online training resources and opportunities, and educational and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement. For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit neabigread.org.
About Essex County Library Directors
Essex County Library Directors (ECLD) is a nonprofit organization with membership open to the directors of public, academic, and special libraries in Essex County. Its mission is to promote and further the development of library services in Essex County. Visit sites.google.com/site/essexcountyld for more information.
About The National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016. Go to arts.gov/50th to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary timeline.
About Arts Midwest
Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit artsmidwest.org.