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Ready, Set, Read! The NEA Big Read: Wichita Begins Sept. 28

Contact: Sean Jones, Wichita Public Library |

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) selected Wichita as a recipient of a $15,000 grant for the NEA Big Read: Wichita. The funds will be used to host a series of events related to this year’s featured book, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. The program kicks off with a community party from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Advanced Learning Library, 711 W. 2nd St.

Lab Girl is a memoir about Jahren’s life as a geobiologist living with bipolar disorder, and how she finds beauty in nature and science.

“We chose Lab Girl because of the community organizations we can partner with,” said Julie Sherwood, Partnership and Community Engagement Manager for the Wichita Public Library. “The book talks about the beauty of science and nature, and we look forward to building upon these themes through science, arts and cultural programs all across the city.”

Guests attending the Kick Off Party will view nature photography by Roy Wenzl, watch a mime performance by Wichita State University’s Alithea Mime Troupe, listen to chamber music and enjoy a reader’s theatre presentation. Free copies of Lab Girl will be available while supplies last.

“The Kick Off Party is our opportunity to get in the spirit of this year’s NEA Big Read: Wichita book and also highlight some of the upcoming community programs planned throughout Wichita and surrounding areas,” Sherwood said.

Upcoming programs include keynote speakers from The Land Institute and the University of California Davis Nature Reserve System, a community art fair at CityArts, Art on the Trail at the Great Plains Nature Center and film screenings of “Madame Curie” and “Hidden Figures.”

The NEA Big Read: Wichita runs October 1-November 15. A complete list of Big Read events happening throughout Wichita are listed at Readers are also invited to join the conversation at the Big Read Wichita Facebook page.

Wichita Public Library provides collections and services that inform, entertain and enrich the quality of life in Wichita. For more information, please visit

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The Wichita Public Library Foundation is one of 78 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read project between September 2019 and June 2020. The NEA presents NEA Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest.

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