Big Read is a wrap

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — They say all good things come to an end and for the Dearborn Public Library that’s the 2014 Big Read.

The Big Read, the grant program from the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment that the city received last year, ended May 17 at Henry Ford Centennial Library after more than two months and 30 events spread between Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.

The Dearborn Public Library was one of 77 organizations in the country and one of two in the state that received the $10,000 grant from the NEA to host a program in its community.

“We were thrilled to host the program,” Library Director Maryanne Bartles said. “It brought together students, regular library users and some people who do not normally use the library because the program had so much to offer everyone. It was really encouraging to see everyone reading a classic piece of American literature.”

The events were dedicated to bringing people together through the reading of Jack London’s classic “Call of the Wild.”

Bartles said attendance at all the Big Read events was good but that an estimated 500 people came out for the wrap up party, which featured real dog sleds, an old-time photo booth and gold panning among other activities.

“We had a very good turnout for the wrap up party,” Bartles said. “While I was there I had a lot of people come up to me and thanked the library for putting the different events on. It was really great.”

She said that throughout the program the library received a lot of phone calls from
residents asking when the next event was and how they could get involved.

“We try to go out and promote our regular library programs and attract guests but with the Big Read we had people reaching out to us for information,” Bartles said. “That’s really positive for us.”

Bartles said the library personnel tried hard to reach out to as many people as it could in the community by having not only events that appealed to all age groups, but also by offering copies of the book in Arabic.

“We really wanted to reach out to Arabic community with this program,” Bartles said. “We had versions of the book in Arabic and also some discussions on the book in Arabic so everyone could get involved.”

She also said the library did not apply for the 2015 Big Read but will “absolutely” apply for 2016.

She said the application for 2016 is due in the fall so a committee will meet to discuss the application in late summer or early fall and then the focus will be on choosing a book, one of the more difficult tasks of the application.

“There is a list of books to choose from as part of the Big Read, so we would have to go through them and try to find the best fit for our community, which isn’t easy,” Bartles said. “Hopefully our next choice will be as popular as this one was.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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