NEA Big Read Project Launch: Monday, October 14, 4 p.m.

A public event on Monday, October 14 will be the launch for the Dearborn Public Library’s fourth NEA Big Read program, which focuses on Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl.

The memoir tells the story of a young woman who finds friendship in odd places, battles bipolar disorder, perseveres through setbacks, and relishes hard-earned triumphs, eventually becoming a respected scientist and passionate observer of the natural world.

Though the NEA Big Read programming takes place in March and April of 2020, the project will launch on Monday, October 14 at 4 p.m. at the Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC) at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Rd.

During the October 14 event, Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. will join Dearborn Library Director Maryanne Bartles, UM-D Chancellor Domenico Grasso, and Dorothy McLeer, who is the program coordinator and interpretive naturalist at the EIC, in promoting the upcoming NEA Big Read.

There will also be tulip bulbs given away at the free, family-friendly event, courtesy of English Gardens. Light refreshments will be served. Free parking will be available on the third floor of the Monteith Parking Structure. Attendees are advised to only park on the third floor. Here is the flyer.

Lab Girl, published in 2016, quickly earned critical acclaim, being called one of the best books of the year.

The theme of the 2020 NEA Big Read-Dearborn is “The World Is Your Lab,” and programming will focus on science and nature. Throughout March and April 2020, there will be many events for the community to participate in, including lectures, films, book discussions, nature walks, and other activities centered on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). The adventure begins with a kick-off at The Henry Ford on Saturday, March 7, at 11 a.m.

Here is a brief introduction to the book from the NEA Big Read website (

The prologue to Jahren’s memoir is an invitation to the reader: to look out the window; to see something green; to home in on that vision of green—a tree, say; to look more closely at a leaf; and to ask a question about that leaf. “Guess what?” she then writes. “You are now a scientist. People will tell you that you have to know math to be a scientist, or physics or chemistry. They’re wrong…. What comes first is a question, and you’re already there” (p. 4).

To put the program together, Dearborn Public Library and the City of Dearborn are partnering with The Henry Ford, the Arab American National Museum, AAUW-Dearborn, DFCU Financial, the Dearborn Community Fund, Dearborn Public Schools, Artspace, Dearborn Library Foundation, Dearborn Library Commission, Friends of the Library-Dearborn, University of Michigan-Dearborn Mardigian Library and the Environmental Interpretive Center, Henry Ford College Eshleman Library, Beaumont Medical Library, East & West Dearborn Downtown Development authorities, Friends of the Rouge, The Dearborn Inn, Green Brain Comics, and Dearborn Heights Libraries.

Organizations or businesses interested in participating to help make the NEA Big Read a community-wide experience should contact the library at 313-943-2037.

Dearborn’s first NEA Big Read was focused on The Call of the Wild by Jack London in 2014, the second was focused on Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe in 2016, and the third was focused The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri in 2018.

A program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read seeks to broaden our understanding of our world, communities, and ourselves through sharing the joy of a good book.

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