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. Check back in Spring 2023 for a complete schedule of events!

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 An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Congratulations to the 2022 winners!

3rd-5th Grade Poetry Winners

1st.    The Wintery Night by Anna Rozny

2nd.   Fall by Leah Schwarz

3rd.   I Was Walking Along a Road Somewhere by Elizabeth Martin

3rd-5th Grade Short Story Winners

1st.   Aquaflare: The Untold Story by Evangeline Johnson

2nd.  Just One Patriot by Elizabeth Martin

3rd.  The Night I Went to Bed in My Clothes by Abby Nelson

6th-12th Grade Poetry Winners

1st.    Spirits of the Seasons by Caroline Lutz

2nd.  Love, Diamante by Ella Carlson

3rd.  Tie:  Alone by Abby LeClere
  Forged in Fire by Cadence Salmi

Adult Poetry Winners

1st.     Shedding This Skin by Sarah E. Ross

2nd.   amore by Gary M. Armstrong

3rd.   Waiting in the Fields by Ron Hunt

Adult Short Story Winners

1st.   Ebonne: First Day of School in America by Dee A. Robb

2nd.  Echoes of War by Gayle Keiser

3rd.  Merlot by David Ericson

Adult Nonfiction Essay Winners

Winners. Tie:  Getting Stoned by Gary M. Armstrong

Nurse Angel Unaware by LeAnn L. Morgan

Watch this page for details on the next Big Write. 

(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
  • 6th-8th Grade
  • 3rd-5th Grade


Up to three winners in each age group and category will be awarded prizes of $10 to $25.

  • All submissions must be the original and creative work of the person submitting them and should have been written within the last year.
  • Each contestant may submit up to two short stories and two poems. Adults may also submit up to two nonfiction essays.
  • The submissions do not have to be written exclusively for the Big Write; they may be submitted to other contests.
  • No information identifying the entrant may be included on any pages except the cover page. The cover page should include the contestant’s name, street address, email address if available, and phone number if available. The cover page should also specify the contestant’s level (adult, 9th-12th grade, 6th-8th grade, or 3rd-5th grade).
  • Short stories (and nonfiction essays for adults only) must be typed in 12 point type and can be no longer than 8 pages double-spaced.
  • Poems and stories submitted electronically may be published in a local newspaper or online. Submission indicates your permission for the entry to be published. No short stories or poems will be returned.
  • Writers can reside outside the Galesburg/Knox County area.

2022 deadline: to 11:59 pm on March 1.

Materials may be emailed to, dropped off in person at the library, placed in the Book Return box in the parking lot, or emailed to Writing Contest, Galesburg Public Library, 40 E. Simmons St., Galesburg, Il 61401. Electronic submissions are preferred. Contest winners only will be notified in the middle of April. A list of winners will be available at the library.

A reception for winners, entrants, friends, family, and the community will be held at the library on Saturday, April 30.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Galesburg Public Library, the 2022 Big Write is part of Galesburg Public Library’s NEA Big Read of An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. 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!


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