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CSUEB, Oakland Library to Host 'The Big Read'

  • February 7, 2009

In an effort to boost reading among Oakland residents, California State University, East Bay is partnering with the Oakland Public Library - aided by a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts - to host "The Big Read" at the library and the university's Oakland Center during February and March of 2009.

"The Big Read" project will benefit 250 students and young adults. Participants will include students ages 15 through 17 from three Oakland area schools: Skyline High School, Head-Royce School and Holy Names High School. Young people from Alameda County Juvenile Hall also will take part.

CSUEB is one of 208 organizations - universities and colleges; libraries; municipalities; and arts, culture and science organizations - to receive "The Big Read" grants during the 2008-09 academic year. The program gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss and celebrate one of 23 selections from American and world literature.

"The Big Read" in Oakland will focus on "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest J. Gaines.

"Reading is fundamental to a quality education, so Cal State East Bay is delighted to be a part of this great event," said Mo Qayoumi, university president. "We're proud to be partnering with the Oakland Public Library and the National Endowment for the Arts."

"Everything the NEA does we do in partnership," said Dana Giola, NEA chair. "I am delighted to announce our 208 new partners in ‘The Big Read.' Some are new to the program, some are returning, but all of them have answered the call to action to get our country reading again."

"The Big Read" kicks off at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. at 10th St., from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, accompanied by cook-off of Southern-style food. That will be followed by a reading of "A Lesson Before Dying" by community actors, at the Oakland Public Library's Golden Gate Branch, 5606 San Pablo Ave., at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23.

The selected organizations were awarded "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 educational materials to supplement each title, including guides for the readers and teachers.

"With this latest round of grants, I am proud to say that ‘The Big Read' has supported more than 500 public library partnerships," said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the NEA's lead federal partner for "The Big Read." "Through this program, public libraries continue to demonstrate their value in communities as centers of engagement, literacy and lifelong learning. I am particularly delighted by the innovative public programming born out of library and museum collaborations."

"The Big Read" is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Support for the project is provided to the NEA by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Further information about "The Big Read" nationally is available online at Additional information about Oakland's "Big Read" program is available at

Founded in 1957, California State University, East Bay, is the public university of choice for the San Francisco East Bay area, serving the region with two campuses - in Hayward and Concord - and a professional development center in downtown Oakland. Cal State East Bay offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and programs in 100 fields of study, including a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership for Social Justice.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts-both new and established-bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.

The Oakland Public Library has been in existence since 1878, with 15 branches, a main library, a second start adult literacy program, a bookmobile, a tool lending library and its new African-American Museum and Library. It also offers many other special services for residents of Oakland and California.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

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