Essex County libraries receive grant to hold NEA Big Read

MONTCLAIR, NJ — The Essex County Library Directors has received a grant of $15,000 to host the NEA Big Read in Essex County. A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA Big Read broadens one’s understanding of our world, local communities, and one’s self through the joy of sharing a good book. Programming will launch during National Library Week, which takes place the first week of April 2017, and conclude during Administrative Assistants Week, the final week of April.

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.

“We are thrilled to participate in the Big Read on a countywide level,” Sarah Lester, director of Maplewood Memorial Library, said in a press release. “Getting Essex County excited about literature, and doing so with a local author, is an exceptional way to get residents energized about their public libraries.”

ECLD is one of 77 nonprofit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read project between September 2016 and June 2017.

“I have the opportunity to travel around the country and see the way the arts can inspire, allow for reflection and create new experiences,” Jane Chu, chairwoman of the NEA, said in the release. “I look forward to the creative ways these 77 organizations will bring their communities together around a great work of literature through their participation in the NEA 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 communitywide 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.

John Cotton Dana Library of Rutgers University-Newark, along with 16 public libraries in Essex County will partner with Essex County Library Directors to facilitate and host various events throughout The Big Read. These public libraries  are located in Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, East Orange, Glen Ridge, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Montclair, Newark, Roseland, South Orange, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange.

For more information about the NEA Big Read, visit