This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Contact to report an issue.

Once again, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library is partnering with the Forsyth County Public Library for the “Big Read 2009.” You may recall that last year Rosalind Tedford was the ZSR representative for this project when the book selected was “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. This year I’ve taken on that role and the book selected this year is Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.In preparation for the various Big Read programs in September and October, Elizabeth Skinner of FCPL and I are attending the “Big Read” orientation this week in Minneapolis! Elizabeth has been leading the “On the Same Page” community reading program for years and in recent years combining and supplementing that program with the “Big Read” NEA grant which offers funds to match those contributed by ZSR and FCPL. As a result, more programming can be offered and more copies of the book can be made available in the community.

The orientation began with David Kipen National Reading Initiatives Director, National Endowment of the Arts kicking off the event and welcoming us to the orientation. Almost half of the audience was new to the Big Read. David Kipen reminded us that the program has grown from a handful of books to 33 titles and that this year there are over 269 communities/libraries receiving grants. Once again Mr. Kipen will be out in the Big Read mobile (a hybrid Ford Escape) crossing America and attending events. He is the author of the blog He also told us about a community that had 100% participation, the 140 residents of Kelleys Island, Ohio. It was a fun, entertaining way to kick off the event!

David Kipen was followed by Christine Taylor, the Program Director of Arts Midwest, one of the Big Read organizers. She pointed out the “hotline” information and introduced the members of her team who are there to help the grantees. Additionally we received a quick overview of the required deadlines and features of the website. They have made all the images and logos available via the web and secured all the necessary copyright for the audio files and essays available in the reader’s guide.

Tomorrow we will learn more about managing public and media relations, working with publishers and securing community partnerships just to name a few of the topics!

During some free time today I took advantage of the opportunity to walk the 6 blocks to the Minneapolis Public Library at 300 Nicollet Mall. This impressive building by Cesar Pelli boasts an 18,500 square foot green roof of low-growing drought resistant ground cover.

And no trip to Minneapolis would be complete without a photo of the Mary Tyler Moore bronze statue on Nicollet.