One Book, One New Paltz receives grant for fall 2007 programming

NEW PALTZ — The Research Foundation of the State University of New York at New Paltz has received a $8,200 grant on behalf of the "One Book, One New Paltz" community-wide reading program from National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for participating in its nationwide reading program, the Big Read.

The 2007 One Book, One New Paltz Planning Committee.

New Paltz was one of 117 cities that were awarded grants to produce celebrations of American literature from September through December 2007. The Big Read, launched nationally in October 2006 by the NEA, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Arts Midwest, encourages literary reading by asking communities to come together to read and discuss one book.

For three years, the New Paltz community has been participating in One Book, One New Paltz, and this year’s chosen book, "Bless Me, Ultima," a novel by Rudolfo Anaya, is a powerful coming-of-age story set in rural New Mexico in the 1940s.

Gerald Benjamin, dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at New Paltz and the founder of One Book, said the planning committee was delighted to have been selected to be a part the nationwide effort to renew, celebrate and advance the practice of reading through collaborative, community-based efforts.

"Our receipt of funding through this program is a wonderful testimonial to the great success of the One Book, One New Paltz collaboration over the past two years – accomplished entirely by dedicated volunteers in the New Paltz community and on the SUNY campus," said Benjamin.

The One Book committee said the NEA Big Read funding will go toward promotion and planning of 20 events starting with a festive Day of the Dead-themed kickoff reception in downtown New Paltz, academic panels about the novel, art and photography exhibits, film nights, storytelling events and coffeehouse book discussions.

A complete list of Big Read activities will be available on the One Book, One New Paltz Web site, as well as on the National Endowment for the Arts Web site, at the beginning of September.

"We invite all in the community to read "Bless Me, Ultima" this year, and participate with us in some or all of the Big Read events that we are planning," said Benjamin.

"Bless Me, Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya is available at Sojourner Truth Library, Elting Memorial Library, and at area bookstores including the newly-opened Inquiring Minds Bookstore on Church Street in New Paltz.

"We’re thrilled to be participating in the Big Read and to be part of the New Paltz community," said bookstore owner Brian Donohue.