Campus News

Open book

Reference librarian Diana Hartle holds a copy of Bless Me

UGA partners with local community to promote literacy with The Big Read

It’s understandable for librarians to be enthusiastic when it comes to reading, but about owls?

An “Owl Prowl” at Memorial Park’s Bear Hollow Wildlife Trail is one of the diverse activities planned to celebrate The Big Read in Athens from Sept. 13-Oct. 26.

The UGA Libraries in conjunction with the Georgia Museum of Art, the Lyndon House Arts Center and the Athens-Clarke County Public Library received a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to fund The Big Read, a program to restore reading to the center of American culture with a variety of complementary programming centered around one of the supported books.

“We feel this program will bring the university and Athens communities together by promoting literacy and a love of reading. This is an opportunity for uniting town and gown by promoting university resources and services for the larger Athens-Clarke community,” said Diana Hartle, a UGA reference librarian who is coordinating the program. “It’s an amazing way to share the wealth of our collective knowledge.”

Bless Me, Ultima, a coming-of-age novel by Rudolfo Anaya, is the focus of The Big Read in Athens. The initial planning committee selected the book from a list provided by NEA. Anaya’s book was chosen because of the changing demographics of the Athens-Clarke community, according to Hartle.

“The Hispanic population is increasing,” she said. “And this book seems like a good way to bridge cultural misunderstandings that changing demographics may bring.”

The book will serve as a point of departure for a variety of events that will highlight unique aspects of the community.

“I think all of our programs will be great, but I am most excited about our Sept. 13 kickoff event at the Lyndon House Arts Center at 11 a.m. that we’ve designed to be a community-wide celebration,” Hartle said.

All events during The Big Read are open free to the public. A full schedule, including events at UGA, is available on the NEA Web site ( Choose “Our Community” in the drop-down menu.