Galesburg Public Library

NEA Big Read

The Galesburg Public Library is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2022-2023 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $10,000 will support a community reading program focusing on Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu in April 2023. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience.


In April 2023, the NEA Big Read in Galesburg will focus on Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. Written as a screenplay, Interior Chinatown follows a young Asian-American man as he tries to become a famous actor, and the discrimination he faces in doing so. It manages to explore serious topics while still being funny and uplifting. To celebrate Interior Chinatown, the library and its partners will host free educational and entertaining performances, speakers, book discussions, craft events, and other fun activities for all ages. Free books will be given away during the kickoff event and at the library. If your classroom or private book club is interested in receiving free copies of the book, please contact the Big Read Coordinator, Eileen Castro, at or 309-343-6118. See the complete schedule of events below, and stop by the Reference Desk if you would like a paper copy or if you would like more information about any of the events!

2023 Interior Chinatown Events Brochure

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $24 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 16 years, grantees have leveraged more than $56 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 97,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. 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 NEA Big Read selection.

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 Arts Endowment 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. 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 35 years. For more information, please visit

National Endowment for the Arts

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

The Galesburg Public Library’s Annual Creative Writing Contest

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library

Part of Galesburg Public Library’s NEA Big Read of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Announcing the 2023 winners!

Thank you to the Friends of the Galesburg Public Library for sponsoring the contest, to our judges, and to everyone who entered.

1st. Until I Met You by Elizabeth Martin
2nd. The Week of Upside Down by Cora Rodeffer
3rd. I Have No Idea by Israel Aparicio Lopez

1st. Adventure to the Alamo by Elizabeth Martin
2nd. Nellie and the Shoemakers by Karin Septima McCarthy Foubert
3rd. Cat Goes on Vacation by Caleb Nissley

1st. My Generation’s Geno(sui)cide by Cadence Salmi
2nd. Turbulent Waters by Maya Schwarz
3rd. The Battle of the Bridge by Caleb Schwarz

1st. The Ultimate Party Planner by Caroline Lutz
3rd. Plentyn Island by Loraena Nissley

1st. Lexicalization by Anna Everett Beek
2nd. Losing Her Face by Dee A. Robb
3rd. Reflection by Dylann Gabrielle

1st. Mrs. Draper’s Christmas Letter by Rich Hanson
2nd. A Brush, a Rake, and a Whoosh by Gary M. Armstrong
3rd. The Cyber Bully Hiding Behind Her Keyboard by LeAnn Morgan

1st. Touches of Life by Karen Fields
2nd. The Message Is Clear by Gary M. Armstrong
3rd. What Were Your Grandparents Like by Gwendolyn Johnson

(A paper copy of the Submission Guidelines can be picked up at the library’s Reference Desk and Children’s Desk from January to the deadline.)

Three categories of submissions are being accepted:

  • Short Stories
  • Nonfiction essays (for adults only)
  • Poetry and song lyrics

Submissions will be grouped into four levels:

  • Adult
  • 9th-12th Grade
  • 7th-8th Grade
  • 3rd-6th Grade
  • Up to 3 winners in each age group and category will be awarded prizes of $20 to $50.
  • All submissions must be the original and creative work of the person submitting them and should have been written within the last year. Fan Fiction is not allowed.
  • Each contestant may submit up to two short stories and two poems. Adults may also submit up to two nonfiction essays.
  • Submissions do not have to be written exclusively for the Big Write; they may be submitted to other contests. No entries will be returned.
  • No information identifying the entrant may be included on any pages except the cover page. Cover page should include contestant’s name, street address, email address, and phone number, and should specify the contestant’s age level (Adult, 9th-12th Grade, 7th-8th Grade, 3rd-6th Grade).
  • Short stories and essays must be in 12 point type and no longer than 8 pages double-spaced. Submission indicates permission for the entry to be published.
  • Writers can reside outside the Galesburg/Knox County area.
  • The submission deadline is Monday, March 20, 2023, at 11:59 PM.
  • Submissions may be emailed to, dropped off at the library’s Reference Desk, placed in the Book Return box in the parking lot, or mailed to Writing Contest, Galesburg Public Library, 40 E Simmons St, Galesburg, IL 61401.
  • Electronic submissions are preferred. Winners only will be notified in early April. A list of winners will be available at the library and on the library website.
  • A reception for winners, entrants, friends, family, and the community is scheduled for April 29 at 2:00 PM. Refreshments will be served, and winners can choose to read their entries.

Up to three winners in each age group and category will be awarded prizes of $20 to $50.

2023 deadline: to 11:59 pm on March 20.

For more information about The Big Write or The Big Read, call (309) 343-6118 or email

Ghosts of Galesburg

Ghosts of Galesburg is an annual walking tour presented by the Galesburg Public Library and the Galesburg Historical Society. Every year, around Halloween, certain “ghosts” from Galesburg’s past return to their old stomping grounds to speak about their lives. Check back next year for more information about the 2022 tour — Ghosts of Galesburg: Greatest Hits!