• Crystal Hicks, Assistant Library Director

Nacogdoches Public Library received an NEA Big Read Grant!

The Nacogdoches Public Library was one of 79 organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Big Read Grant!

Your #CityofNac Public Library is a recipient of a grant of $13,000 to host the NEA Big Read in our community! The NEA Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. This program broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

The NEA Big Read in Nacogdoches will focus on Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award. Free copies of the book are currently available at the library and a wide variety of activities will take place in October.

“Survival is insufficient” is a central theme of the novel, in which survivors of a deadly pandemic form a traveling symphony and theatrical group in an attempt to preserve and disseminate art and culture in otherwise dire circumstances. The characters cling to their memories of both high and popular culture as cornerstones of their lost society and selves, while endeavoring to forge new stories in a tender new civilization. Station Eleven is both timely and original, examining what remains of humanity when we are tested to the most extreme lengths. Mandel offers a fresh take on a familiar genre, and the story follows disparate characters as they struggle to find meaning and purpose.

Last year the library kicked off a community-wide reading program–"One Book, One City"–that strongly resembled this program. In fact, our library staff researched programs around the country and modeled our inaugural year on NEA’s Big Read in the hopes that someday we would be able to join those ranks! In 2017, we read True Grit and explored and celebrated the themes and issues in the novel with community partners across the city. The success of that initiative encouraged us to swing for the fences and expand the program this year with the help of the NEA and Arts Midwest. We are overjoyed to have received this award on our first attempt, and we plan to continue the annual program as a means of connecting our community through reading.

The Nacogdoches Public Library is excited to offer programs for the whole family. From conventional book discussions to exhibits, demonstrations, film screenings, parties, and more, we aim to find unique ways to engage our community. We will also provide related reading suitable for younger readers, as well as teaching materials for teachers and book club leaders! Our goal is to reach a diverse readership, generate excitement about reading and community, and inspire new and different ways to experience and understand literature.

As always, your suggestions for programs or materials are welcome. If you or your organization would like to participate in the NEA Big Read, please contact or call 936-559-2970. Stop by and pick up your copy today!

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

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 NEA 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 NEA.

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

Crystal Hicks is a reformed academic who taught literature and film studies at Texas Tech before leaving the field to pursue a career in librarianship. She is the assistant director of the Nacogdoches Public Library and heads up programming and outreach. She’s involved with a number of community organizations, including Rotary, Friends of the Visual Arts, East Texas Creative, East Texas Cultural Alliance, and has served on committees with Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful and the Alzheimer’s Association. At the library, Crystal's duties run the gamut: supervising & training staff and volunteers; planning, implementing, and promoting programs; getting creative with the budget; grant writing; developing the library's collection, distracting crying children, refereeing Nerf battles, and building a hovercraft with a leaf blower. All in a day's work. She's happy to share the really interesting stories in a more informal setting.



Nacogdoches, TX, USA

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