Van Patrick AwardeesInitiative designed to inspire reading across Dearborn community with activities being planned for early 2020

The Dearborn Public Library has done it again!

It has received yet another NEA Big Read Grant and will present a fourth communitywide reading event, this time in early 2020 and centered on an award-winning book detailing a woman’s career in science, as well as her triumphs over personal obstacles.

The NEA Big Read grant awarded to Dearborn is for $15,000. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest and seeks to broaden understanding of the world, communities and individuals through the joy of sharing a good book.

The latest NEA Big Read-Dearborn will focus on the 2016 memoir Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, a geobiologist from rural Minnesota who not only knows her trees and flowers, but “has some serious literary chops” (Washington Post).

Her bestselling memoir Lab Girl tells the story of a young woman who finds friendship in odd places, battles bipolar disorder, perseveres through setbacks and relishes hard-earned triumphs, and becomes a respected scientist and passionate observer of the natural world.

Lab Girl BookINSTAGRAMCalled one of the best books of the year by, among others, NPR, Time, Entertainment Weekly, and Elle,  the memoir “does for botany what Oliver Sacks’s essays did for neurology, and what Stephen Jay Gould’s writings did for paleontology” (New York Times). It’s “immediately engrossing and extremely readable” (The Guardian).

The theme of the NEA Big Read-Dearborn is “The World Is Your Lab” and programming will concentrate on science and nature.

The Big Read Dearborn Kick-off, scheduled for March 7, 2020 at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, will feature free copies of Lab Girl and activities for all ages. 

Then throughout March and April 2020, many events will offer the community a chance to learn about the book and its themes, and include lectures, films, book discussions, nature walks, and programming focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

To help bring this massive project to life, Dearborn Public Library is partnering with The Henry Ford, the Arab American National Museum, AAUW-Dearborn, the Dearborn Community Fund, Dearborn Public Schools, the City of Dearborn Department of Public Information, Artspace, Dearborn Library Foundation, Dearborn Library Commission, Friends of the Library-Dearborn, University of Michigan-Dearborn Mardigian Library and the Environmental Interpretive Center, Henry Ford College Eshleman Library, Dearborn Historical Museum, Beaumont Medical Library, East & West Dearborn Downtown Development authorities, Friends of the Rouge, The Dearborn Inn, Green Brain Comics and Dearborn Heights Libraries. The list of partners continues to grow. 

Organizations or businesses interested in being involved with the Big Read Dearborn should contact the library at (313) 943-2037.

Dearborn’s first Big Read was focused on The Call of the Wild by Jack London in 2013-14; the second was Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe in 2015-16; and the third was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri in 2017-18.

Dearborn Public Library is one of 78 nonprofit organizations to receive an NEA Big Read grant for programs scheduled through June 2020.

Please visit or for updates on the 2019-20 NEA Big Read-Dearborn.


About the NEA Big Read

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $20 million to organizations nationwide. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.

About Arts Midwest

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