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Santa Barbara Library Wins Reading Program Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts funding will support this fall's Santa Barbara Reads program

The Santa Barbara Public Library System has won a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support this fall’s Santa Barbara Reads program.

The Big Read is an initiative of the NEA in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services designed to revitalize the role of literature in U.S. culture. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.

The Santa Barbara Public Library System has presented its own community reading program, called Santa Barbara Reads, annually in the fall since 2002. The Big Read grant will allow the Library to continue the program this year despite cuts to the library budget. The program is set to begin with Banned Books Week in late September and continue until Oct. 24.

This year’s book choice attempts to bring a book to the community that is relevant to a wide range of ages. It surely will strike readers differently in 2009 than it did when it was first published. A requirement of the grant is that the library partner with schools and youth organizations to involve junior high and high school students. Although the book title, selected from 27 books on the Big Read list, won’t be announced until July, teachers, school librarians and youth program directors are encouraged to contact Christine Gallery at the Central Library to indicate interest in participating.

Part of the grant money is set aside to purchase copies of the paperback edition, teachers’ guides and bookmarks to be given to partner schools and organizations to encourage reading and discussion groups at their sites.

Additional programming will include a kickoff event, youth art projects, public readings, a discussion panel, library discussions, screenings of a film made from the book and related films and a free public talk by the author.

— Christine Gallery is a reference librarian for the Santa Barbara Public Library.

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