Galesburg Public Library

NEA Big Reads/Community Reads

Each year since 2007, the Galesburg Public Library has hosted a community read. In the spring of 2024, we will host Galesburg Reads! Funded with a grant from the Galesburg Community Foundation, the community read will focus on The Bear by Andrew Krivak. Set in the future, the book highlights environmental conservation, family love and loss, and the beauty and importance of nature.

To celebrate The Bear, 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. If your classroom or private book club is interested in receiving free copies of the book, please email community read coordinator Emma Cork or call 309-343-6118. Details will be posted in 2024.

The Galesburg Public Library has received 16 Big Read Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2006, the NEA 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.

Galesburg Community Foundation works to improve the quality and health of our community. GCF believes that connecting people to the causes they care about is a key ingredient to effective philanthropy. Every year, Galesburg Community Foundation awards grants to regional nonprofits through its annual grant cycle, The Turnout. More information can be found at


Attendance at library programs and events and participating in library-related activities constitutes consent to be photographed for Galesburg Public Library publicity purposes.

The Big Write

The Galesburg Public Library’s Annual Creative Writing Contest

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library

Because of the timing of the move to a new library, there will not be a Big Write writing contest in 2024. Watch for its return in 2025.

For your interest, Big Write submission guidelines from previous years are given here.

Three categories of submissions:

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

Submissions grouped into four levels:

  • Adult
  • 9th-12th Grade
  • 7th-8th Grade
  • 3rd-6th Grade
  • Up to 3 winners in each age group and category 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.
  • After the winners have been announced, a reception for winners, entrants, friends, family, and the community is held, where refreshments are served and winners can choose to read their entries.

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

2024: no contest and no deadline. See you in 2025!

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 event during which “ghosts” from Galesburg history come back to tell us a little about their lives. In 2023, the event focused on the Mexican Boxcar people of Galesburg. A video of the 2023 presentation can be found here.