Alachua County Library District, Florida Museum of Natural History receive $15,000 NEA Big Read grant

June 18, 2020

Media Advisory – June 18, 2020

Gainesville, Fla. – The Alachua County Library District and the Florida Museum of Natural History received a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant to launch a dynamic community reading program on the memoir “Lab Book cover of an acorn held by tweezers and a tree sprouting from the words "Lab Girl"Girl,” by award-winning scientist Hope Jahren. The two organizations will launch “Lab Girl” programs in the fall.

“We are honored to receive this grant and to partner with Florida Museum to bring large-scale, diverse science and arts programming to Gainesville as recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant,” said Jasmine Tran, Alachua County Library District Adult Services Senior Manager.

“My hope for this grant is to build a partnership between the Florida Museum and the Alachua County Library District that lifts up voices of diverse women scientists and builds community through curiosity and conversations,” said Chelsea Collison, Florida Museum Public Programs Educator.

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which supports community reading programs, each designed around a single National Endowment for the Arts Big Read book selection. This year, 84 organizations were selected to receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 for projects.

“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 Gainesville, the Alachua County Library District and Florida Museum of Natural History will provide opportunities for deep discussion and ways to help us better understand one another.”

From September 2020 through February 2021, the Library District and museum will present programming surrounding Jahren’s captivating biography including virtual programs, panel lectures, and workshops. The project will provide opportunities for participants to engage in discussions on “Lab Girl” themes including fighting stereotypes, cultivating friendships, following your passions, and living with mental illness.

“We hope that participants will gain a new appreciation for the natural world and the often-overlooked contributions of women in science working to protect it,” Tran said.

For more information, please contact Rachel Cook at 352-334-3909,, or Kaitlin Gardiner at


If a person with a disability needs an accommodation in order to participate in this event he or she is entitled, at no cost to him or her, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the Alachua County Library District at 352-334-3910 at least three (3) days prior to the event. TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).


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