Home Indepenent Independent News Middletown library receives National Endowment for the Arts grant 

Middletown library receives National Endowment for the Arts grant 

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Middletown library receives National Endowment for the Arts grant 

MIDDLETOWN – The Middletown Township Public Library has been named the recipient of a $5,000 grant to host the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read.

An Arts Endowment initiative in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens individuals’ understanding of the world, its communities and themselves through the joy of sharing a good book, according to a press release from the township.

The Middletown Township Public Library is one of 84 nonprofit organizations selected to receive an NEA Big Read grant to support a community reading program between September 2020 and June 2021, and the only public library in the country reading “In the Heart of the Sea,” according to the press release.

The NEA Big Read in Middletown will focus on Nathaniel Philbrick’s “In the Heart of the Sea,” which was made into a motion picture in 2015. Activities will take place throughout April 2021.

“Our library is an epicenter of learning and exploration, and through grants like this the library can continue to provide programming that inspires our community members to broaden their horizons and connect with others through reading,” Mayor Tony Perry said.

“We have become even more aware this year of the important ways the arts help us connect with others, and how they bring meaning, joy and comfort to our lives,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“By bringing the NEA Big Read to Middletown, the Middletown Township Public Library will provide opportunities for deep discussion and ways to help us better understand one another,” she said.

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery, according to the press release.

The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single National Endowment for the Arts Big Read selection, according to the press release.

“In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” (the inspiration behind Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”) is a New York Times best-seller and won the National Book Award in 2000.

“Although the book takes place in the 1820s, the themes of survival, society and classism, leadership, and man vs. nature are current topics in our society and community,” said Heather Andolsen, director of the Middletown Township Public Library.

“The non-fiction story explores the fear and choices the crew made to survive. The library will also have young adult versions of the book to offer the community,” Andolsen said.

The library looks forward to partnering with numerous organizations to explore Middletown’s roots in fishing and maritime commerce, from the same period as “In the Heart of the Sea,” according to the press release. Programs will be for all ages.

The Middletown Township Public Library was established in 1921 and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. For more information visit www.mtpl.org/centennial