Stillwater Public Library kicks off “NEA Big and Little Read” series on Oct. 2


Story provided by Stillwater Public Library

The Stillwater Public Library (SPL) invites the community to immerse themselves in music, exploration and literature on Saturday, Oct. 2, for its reading series kickoff events. Couch Park hosts the library’s first “Little Read” for kids and families from 10 a.m.–noon. At 7 p.m., renowned Oklahoma guitarist Edgar Cruz kicks off the “Big Read” in the library courtyard.

According to children’s librarian Elizabeth Murray, the “Little Read” kickoff is chockful of family fun. 

“Our ‘Little Read’ book, ‘Blackout’ by John Rocco, will be up and ready for readers in the park’s Storywalk,” Murray said. “After reading, walking and hopping through the Storywalk, kids can pick up a free copy of the book, then have fun jamming out with musician Monty Harper and experimenting with solar energy.”

Solar Science activities have been coordinated by OSU’s One Community, One Challenge (OCOC): Common Ground Challenge, funded by the National Science Foundation. The shared project is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Science, the College of Education and Human Sciences, the Prairie Arts Center and the library. OCOC’s goal is to provide pop-up STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) learning opportunities throughout the community.

“Rocco’s ‘Blackout’ follows a family who finds fun in their community after losing electricity,” Murray said. “Kids get to explore the science of electricity and light by learning to create circuits and designing solar-powered bugs. Even better is the electricity-free fun they’ll have playing outdoor games with their family and friends.”

That evening, the community is invited to a free concert featuring Edgar Cruz, who was born and raised in Oklahoma City and studied music at Oklahoma City University, focusing on classical and fingerstyle guitar. Cruz attributes his love of music and the guitar to his father Manuel, a mariachi and Latin American musician who is a legend in his own right. 

Cruz has been playing live shows throughout the state since the late 1970s and is sought after for large art and music festivals. According to Dr. Hugh Foley, an Oklahoma music historian and founding board member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, Cruz is “absolutely one of Oklahoma’s most talented and versatile guitarists.” He has also been named Oklahoma’s Top Performing Artist/Acoustic Guitarist by the Oklahoma Gazette for more than 15 years. 

Emily States, adult services librarian, is eager to see a local music legend perform live in the library courtyard’s intimate setting.

“I’ve missed going to concerts so much,” States said. “This will be the first live show I’ve been to in a long time. Music has always been a saving grace for me during difficult times, and I cannot wait to hear Cruz play.”

“Station Eleven,” the “Big Read” book selection, prominently features a group of touring musicians and actors that perform art for that very purpose, to provide hope and connection in the aftermath of a pandemic. The mantra, “mere survival is insufficient,” drives home the fact that people need the arts to survive because they nurture the human soul.

Staff encourages participants to be COVID-19 safe by wearing masks, not attending library programs if they have any symptoms and keeping social distance. Registration is required to help ensure a smaller group size.

“We thought long and hard and consulted medical and emergency professionals on the safety of an outdoor program,” said Stacy DeLano, library director. “I feel good about attending. I’ll be outdoors, have my mask, my vaccination, and my family’s physical distance. We’re excited to see Edgar play.”

The library has free copies of “Station Eleven” to give to individuals who sign-up to attend a librarian-led book discussion. Discussions take place throughout Oct. and early Nov. and occur at various outdoor locations throughout the community, including virtual sessions and outdoor discussions around a campfire with s’mores at Lake McMurtry, at local coffee shops and ones that incorporate hiking or walking.

Sign-up for the kickoff and all other events, including book discussions, at library.stillwater.org/nea_big_read_stillwater.php. “Big Read” and “Little Read” kickoff participants should bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. 

In case of rain, the library will reschedule both events for a later date. The library will post updates on the library’s website and social media channels. Anyone who is registered for the events will also receive emails about cancellations and rescheduled dates and times.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Additional funding for “NEA Big and Little Read: Stillwater” is provided by the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library, the Stillwater Public Library Trust and OSU’s Edmon Low Library.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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