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Davis Journal

Library wins NEA Big Read grant

Jun 22, 2023 08:50AM ● By Becky Ginos
A mother and her son read in a cozy part of the library. The Davis County Library has selected “The Bear” as the book they will focus on as part of the NEA Big Read program. Courtesy photo

A mother and her son read in a cozy part of the library. The Davis County Library has selected “The Bear” as the book they will focus on as part of the NEA Big Read program. Courtesy photo

FARMINGTON—The Davis County Library has been chosen out of 62 organizations nationwide to receive a 2023-2024 NEA Big Read grant that will be used to support a community reading program. 

“It’s a $5,000 matching grant,” said Kim Valeika, Davis County Library Outreach Manager. “It’s for the period of September 2023 through June 2024.”

“The NEA Big Read brings the transformative experience of reading to an entire community,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). “This year’s grantees, including Davis County Library, are taking themes off the page and using creative programming to navigate difficult topics, explore new perspectives and strengthen bonds between neighbors.”

Valeika said they were given a list of 15 books to choose from. “We picked ‘The Bear’ by Andrew Krivak. The Big Read is to promote coming together, centering around the book and doing the same thing at the same time as a community.”

The book is about a father and daughter, she said. “Something happened and they’re the last two members of humanity. He teaches her how to hunt and how to provide for herself when he is gone.”

Something happens to her father, Valeika said. “Nature helps get her back to where she will live the rest of her days. There’s a lot about the West, hunting, fishing and the outdoors. We thought that would appeal to a large group.”

The nature of the book and its themes make it good for all ages, she said. “It’s small, just a little under 220 pages. It’s very visually written and draws nature in. It teaches that we can’t contain nature or control it.”

The book is about loss and love, Valeika said. “It will appeal to a great number of people. There will be events to put the book into the hands of the public. We’ll add it to our collection and have ebooks and audibles.”

There are five locations that have book clubs, she said. “They meet once a month to discuss the book. We might have them read the book and use it as the next month’s discussion.”

Valeika said they’re trying to work with the school district but nothing is concrete yet. “We have fine arts in the fall and spring for photography. We can make themes from the book in those. We’re still firming things up.”

Some branches may stand alone with events, she said. “Our goal is to get the book out there and get people to read it.”

Davis County is up against the mountains, said Valeika. “Some people traveling I-15 might never venture out and take advantage of nature around us. It seems obvious but we don’t always know it’s there.”

Nature is important, she said. “We need to fight to keep bits of what resources we do have. Things can disappear like the Great Salt Lake. We need to be more harmonious with the nature we have.”

The library receives part of the grant at the beginning, then the rest at the end, Valeika said. “We’ll use a lot of it to buy books and other supplies. The grant application spelled out what you need to do. We have to be very specific about what we have planned.”

The county is perched in a good position, said Valeika. “Our audience likes to read. Fifty-four percent of county residents have a library card. We have a built-in base of people. It’s a well-read community.”

This book can help everyone come together, she said. “It’s not controversial. Nature is a shared commonality. Everyone enjoys nature. It’s something we can talk about and really highlight.”

Parents can read passages to their children, Valeika said. “It’s relatable on so many levels.”