Santa Fe Public Library Receives NEA Big Read Grant

Fall program to focus on Tommy Orange novel ‘There, There’

The Santa Fe Public Library has officially become one of 62 organizations nationwide to pick up a $15,000 Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts—and the only in New Mexico to do so.

The Big Read program, which began in 2006, aims to help readers focus on and celebrate a particular work throughout the course of several months. In the case of Santa Fe and its three library branches across town, that work will be There, There, the debut novel from Oakland-based Cheyenne/Arapaho writer Tommy Orange, a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts.

The 2018 book was a bit of a critical darling for Orange and tells the multi-generational tale of numerous Indigenous characters, all of whom are headed to the Big Oakland Powwow for their own reasons. SFR even named it a must-read in our 2018 Back to School Reading List for grownups, saying, “What makes the book worth reading, though, is the voice: It’s not only Native, but distinctly Urban Indian, unpacking the notion of Indianness in Oakland, which emerges as an unofficial rez.”

“We are looking forward to once again coming together as a community to share a good book, conversation, and strengthen our connections through reading and learning,” Community Services and Library Director Maria Sanchez-Tucker says in a statement. “The [Santa Fe Public Library] worked with 28 community partners to provide 44 NEA Big Read programs for all ages during the 2021 program, and we hope that our 2022 program will have an even bigger reach in the community.”

The Santa Fe Public Library was also awarded a Big Read grant last year and focused on the Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North. According to stats in the statement, more than 5.9 million Americans have taken part in a Big Read event since its inception, while more than 97,000 volunteers have participated at the local level across 40,000 partnered community organizations. The Santa Fe Public Library’s Big Read timeline runs from September through November, with more announcements to come later this year.

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