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Press Release
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The Center for the Book at New Hampshire State Library

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kristen Harbaugh, 603-271-3136
25 June 2007

National Endowment for the Arts Announces Center for the Book at
New Hampshire State Library to Receive Big Read Grant
to Celebrate Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

(CONCORD, NH) The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced that The Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library has received a Big Read grant. The Big Read is a national initiative of the NEA, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Arts Midwest that encourages citizens to join together as a community to read and discuss a single book for pleasure and enlightenment.

One hundred seventeen cities in the US were awarded grants ranging between $5,000 and $20,000 for their month-long, community-based programs. The Big Read in New Hampshire will be held in October and is being planned in partnership with the New Hampshire Humanities Council, the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources, and over 40 libraries, schools, and bookstores throughout the state.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for us to bring together many different partners to focus New Hampshire’s attention on reading and talking about books,” said Mary Russell, Director of the Center for the Book. "By working with local communities to create programming focused on this single work of literature and having so many people reading and discussing Fahrenheit 451 at once, I hope we will create a dynamic conversation throughout our state about what literature really means to a society."

Modeled on successful “city reads” programs, the Big Read was created to address the national decline in literary reading as documented in the NEA’s 2004 landmark survey Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. The survey showed that less than half of the American adult population now reads literature. After executing a successful Big Read pilot program with ten communities in 2006, the NEA announced that it would take the Big Read nationwide. In July, Mrs. Laura Bush enthusiastically joined the Big Read as its Honorary Chair.

“With the Big Read we want to get everyone in a community—from high school kids and office workers to public officials and senior citizens—reading a great book together,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “Our goal is to get people talking about Fahrenheit 451 with the same conviction that they debate the World Series.”

Details on New Hampshire's Big Read events will be available at http://bigreadnh.blogspot.com and will also be included, along with those of the other participating communities around the country at www.neabigread.org.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts—both new and established—bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.

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