Local librarian, groups gearing up for Big Read
31 Jul 2022
City of Seguin, Quality of Life, News
Dalondo Moultrie The Seguin Gazette
Seguin residents will soon have the opportunity to participate in a program that’s kind of a big deal thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Texas Lutheran University an $11,000 grant to lead the first ever Big Read Seguin, said Dan Flores, the university’s librarian. Flores, who came to Seguin for the job about a year ago, wanted to introduce the Big Read to locals after participating in the event at other jobs in Michigan and elsewhere, he said.
“I came to this job and asked the question, ‘Have you guys ever done a Big Read,’” Flores said. “No one could ever remember doing one in Seguin.”
As part of the Big Read, community and nonprofit organizations provide a particular book title for free to people who want to participate in the event. Then partnering agencies convene book discussions, events inspired by the content and themes from the book, projects that engage the community, Q&As and more related to the books.
The Big Read program broadens participants’ understanding of their world, their neighbors and themselves through books, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. The program showcases a diverse range of themes, voices and perspectives to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in communities where it takes place, the endowment said.
“TLU is just one of only 62 nonprofits chosen nationwide for this highly-competitive NEA award,” it stated.
Texas Lutheran University chose “Heartland” by Sarah Smarsh for adults and Joshua Davis’ “Spare Parts” for younger readers, Flores said.
The university plans to partner with other local organizations, nonprofits and interested entities to make the Big Read Seguin a success, Flores said. Partners already include the Seguin Public Library and Teatro De Artes De Juan Seguin, which will help disseminate the two selected and participate in coordinating events surrounding the Big Read, he said.
Teatro plans to serve as created director for the program, designing community events steeped in Mexican-American culture, local and Texas history, music, visual arts and dance, said Yvonne De La Rosa, Teatro executive director. The Big Read will convene large groups of people and touch all sectors of the community, she said.
Bringing many people of different walks of life together as part of the programming is important and beneficial for the community, De La Rosa said.
“When I think about all of these entities coming together, we start collaborating cross-culturally and multi-generationally,” she said. “That is what we’re doing through this. What Teatro will do to boost this is bring culturally-relevant teaching and educational opportunities that will involve the entire community.”
Teatro’s influence will help participants find connections between themes in the books and everyday life, De La Rosa said.
That is important because the Big Read is more than a glorified book club, Flores said. The Big Read Seguin will start with 500 copies of “Heartland” and 100 copies of “Spare Parts,” he said. The university library, the city library and Teatro De Artes De Juan Seguin will have copies available, Flores said.
The opportunity exists to expand the program with more entities, different events and additional partners, he said.
“We want to let the folks know we’re not closed to having partners,” Flores said. “The more this thing grows, it only benefits the community.”
Anyone interested in participating may contact Flores via email at DanFlores@tlu.edu