The Big Read Blog (Archive)


February 8, 2009
Washington, DC

Kansas?s Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library (?TSCPL?) has been part of The Big Read family since the pilot phase. I am always impressed with the great displays the library installs in its rotunda to get everyone psyched about that year?s Big Read. Here?s how they set the scene for Their Eyes Were Watching God, Fahrenheit 451, and their latest Big Read venture To Kill a Mockingbird. (Browse Topeka?s calendar of Big Read events on The Big Read Web site.)


TSCPL was one of the ten brave organizations that helped the NEA to pilot The Big Read from January-June 2007. As the locale for the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site, the library felt it was important to kick off their participation in The Big Read with a novel that would encourage reflection and conversation on the area's racial history. As the library noted in its application, "The community is primed for expanded cultural awareness. The past year?s projects have engaged new and diverse audiences attracted by the dedication of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and the unveiling of a Harlem Renaissance mural honoring Topeka artist Aaron Douglas."


In a 2007 interview with NEA Arts, TSCPL librarian Marie Pyko talked about the library's Big Read partnership with the local TV station: "We?ve lined up an exclusive relationship with our local CBS station. This year, WIBW Channel is a full-fledged partner. Their general manager made Fahrenheit 451 required reading for everyone at the station. [The anchors] have been encouraged to banter about the book all month long. It?s very cool. We?re going to be on TV a lot. They?re even doing the weather at the library."


Here's Marie on what?s cooking so far for this year?s Big Read ?We have had great success so far.  We purchased 1000 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and all are out in the community.  This book is really resonating with Topeka.  The silhouette image in the rotunda was contracted with a local PR firm that did the work as an in-kind gift to our project.  The design was by Sherry O?Neill from Frye-Allen, Inc and people love it.  We are getting ready for our book discussions where we are having two large discussions of Highland Park students with our regular book club group so that should be a lot of fun.?

Photos courtesy of Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.