County’s libraries get ready for ‘Big Read’ Program

Published 5:34 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and has been designed to revitalize the role of literature and reading in America—and not only will the county’s two public libraries be participating, but they will also need your help.

“The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment,” Rene Lester, director of the Luverne Public Library, said.

Both the Luverne Public Library and the Brantley Public Library will participate in The Big Read. Davina Mount is the director of the Brantley Public Library.

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In fact, Lester just returned from an “intense” workshop in Minneapolis on June 16-17 for a Grant Agreement Orientation Meeting for the grant recipients of The Big Read Program. It was sponsored by the Arts Midwest, which is a subsidiary for the National Endowment for the Arts. Lester is the regional coordinator for the Wiregrass area of Alabama and is representing 17 libraries that are participating in next year’s Big Read.

“This is something that we are really looking forward to doing for our schools and our community,” Lester said. “This will help promote literacy and, we think, community involvement, which is so important to the education of our children.”

The Luverne Public Library and the Brantley Public Library have partnered together to promote and carry out several community-based programs. The libraries plan to implement at least one program that targets middle school students in Crenshaw County. Although the public libraries of Alabama are organizing the event, the majority of events will be held in the surrounding communities.

213 public libraries in Alabama will benefit from the state’s first Big Read project. The title selected for The Big Read: Alabama Reads is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. This project coincides with the Alabama Year of the Small Town through the Alabama Tourism Department.

The Alabama Statewide Committee selected The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain for the first statewide Big Read because it is a title that everyone has at least heard about, if not read. Also, it is on many schools’ reading lists and appeals to all ages.

“And for those who have already read it, we encourage them to read it again,” Lester said.

The nine regions of Alabama have been notified of The Big Read grants, which range from $5,000 to $20,000, that will be used for marketing and promotional materials on a state-wide basis. Participating public libraries are in the process of finding local partnerships and sponsors to help with financial support for programs, lectures, and community-based activities which will take place between February – April, 2010.

“The events will be fun and educational and should remind people that the printed word is not dead,” Lester said.

Contact the Luverne Public Library at 335-5326 for more information about the program or to volunteer time or talents to this project, or contact the Brantley Public Library at 527-8624. To learn more about The Big Read, visit