Read and Celebrate The Great Gatsby during The Big Read

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library today announced that it has received a grant of $12,800 to host The Big Read in Shawnee County. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest. The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is one of 78 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host a Big Read project. The Big Read will focus on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald by reading the book and offering more than a dozen events in February and March 2013.

“We will experience The Great Gatsby through jazz, history, reading and lively discussion,” said Nancy Overmyer, Event Resources manager. “The Big Read provides the opportunity to experience the roaring ‘20s through the amazing voice of Angela Hagenbach, a Kansas City jazz singer, or an auto tour of Topeka architecture exhibiting Art Deco and other ‘20s-inspired architectural elements.”

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “At the NEA we know that the arts can help to create strong, vibrant communities by bringing people together. Through The Big Read, these 78 organizations are giving their communities the opportunity to share both great works of literature and memorable experiences.”

The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature. The 78 selected organizations will receive Big Read grants to promote and carry out community-based reading programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings, and performing arts events. Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, including Reader’s and Teacher’s Guides, which also are available for download on

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is a 21st-century landmark library and features the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery, the Millennium Café, Chandler Booktique, meeting rooms and free computer and Internet access and training. Hours are Mon. through Fri. 9am to 9pm, Sat. 9am to 6pm and Sun. 12pm to 9pm.


The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit

Lisa is a former employee and shared the library story in many of her posts.