Library Is Three-Time Winner of NEA’s Big Read Grant


Variety of Activities to Celebrate “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez in Spring 2013

CHICAGO (December 5, 2012) – The Columbia College Chicago Library has received a $16,000 grant from  the National Endowment for the Arts to host The Big Read in Chicago and select suburban areas in spring 2013. This year’s program will focus on “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez, a historical novel about the Mirabal sisters, political dissidents who spoke out during the time of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, who were later honored by the United Nations General Assembly.

“We are extremely honored to be given this highly competitive grant for a third time,” said Columbia College Chicago Library Dean Jan Chindlund. “We plan to work with many strategic partners, including literacy and community organizations, museums, schools, libraries, and Columbia College departments, to create exciting opportunities in the spring of 2013 for audiences to read and interact with the book in educational and innovative ways.”

Activities hosted by Columbia College in the spring will include book discussion groups in partnership with schools in the Chicago Public School system and surrounding communities as well as public libraries. Additional programs include a kickoff event featuring Columbia College Humanities, History and Social Sciences faculty member Carmelo Esterrich, who will speak about Dominican Republic history, the Mirabal sisters and the role of the book in international literature. Author Julia Alvarez will participate via Skype for the keynote event, featuring a reading and discussion which will be broadcast to a wider audience using videoconferencing technology and Internet streaming.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The Columbia College Chicago Library is one of 78 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2012 and June 2013.

“At the NEA we know that the arts can help to create strong, vibrant communities by bringing people together,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “Through The Big Read, these 78 organizations are giving their communities the opportunity to share both great works of literature and memorable experiences.”

The Big Read, managed by Arts Midwest, provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature. The grant is designed to promote and carry out community-based reading programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings, and performing arts events. Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, including Reader’s, Teacher’s, and Audio Guides, which also are available for download on

The Columbia College Chicago Library also won NEA’s Big Read grant in 2009 and 2011, for projects with the books “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Things They Carried.”

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for nearly 11,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit

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Erin Purdy,, 312.369.8695

Steve Kauffman,, 312.369.7383