A! Magazine for the Arts

Washington County Public Library receives Big Read grant

July 27, 2017

The Washington County Public Library, Abingdon, Virginia, received a $15,000 grant to host The Big Read in Washington County. A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Big Read broadens understanding of the world, communities and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Managed by Arts Midwest, this initiative offers grants to support innovative community reading programs designed around a single book.

WCPL is the only organization in Virginia to receive a grant to host a Big Read project. Grants were made to 75 non-profit groups, ranging from schools to libraries to arts organizations.

The Big Read in Washington County focuses on "A Wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula Le Guin. Activities take place for a six-week period in October and November.

"We are excited to bring The Big Read back to Washington County," Charlotte Parsons, library system director, said. "We chose this book because of its connection to local artist, Charles Vess, who is creating new illustrations for the novel's 50th anniversary re-issue."

WCPL is working with several partners to expand the offerings for the community. They include Charles Vess, the Symphony of the Mountains, William King Museum of Art, Arts Array, College of Older Adults, the local school system, local arts organizations, Abingdon Cinemall and Appalachian Poets and Writers. The Bristol Herald Courier and The Washington County News are media sponsors.

"Through the NEA Big Read, we are bringing contemporary works to communities across the country, helping us better understand the diverse voices and perspectives that come with it," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "These 75 organizations have developed unique plans to celebrate these works, including numerous opportunities for exploration and conversation.