Galesburg residents celebrate ‘Big Read’

Galesburg "The Big Read"Galesburg Public Library welcomed visitors to the second floor of its building for an “Anti-Book Burning Kickoff Party.”

The kickoff was part of the 6th installment of the “The Big Read” event in Galesburg, encouraging participants to read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

Galesburg Mayor Sal Garza opened the event with a small speech stating the importance of reading in today’s youth and why reading is important.

“Well, I think that The Big Read offers a significant option in terms of what’s going on today with the gaming and basically with just this bombardment of so many options that you can see over the TV or other electronic devices.”

Those in attendance were allowed to take a free copy of Fahrenheit 451, as well as a free bookmark.

During the event, actor Jeff Cervantez performed a one-man show that was influenced by the book.

Jeff says that the Galesburg Public Library has done its fair share in getting kids to read.

“The times I visited here, I see a multitude of kids sit down, grabbing their favorite books and just having a time, you know. And I think that’s great.”

Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953 and takes place in a futuristic United States where reading or possession of books is banished. In the book, firemen don’t douse fires, but set fires to books or homes of people who are keeping them.

The event was put together and hosted by reference librarian Karly Steele.

She says the library has tried to bring back the importance of reading to Galesburg.

“We are really trying to bring reading back to the center of our community. And Fahrenheit 451 kind of focuses around censorship and the idea of book burning and the value of books and literacy, so we really thought that it would be a good fit.”

The event concluded with hot dogs and s’mores being served in the library’s storybook garden.

Members of the Galesburg Fire Department Rescue Squad were in the garden and demonstrated to guests how a firefighter puts on their uniform.

The Big Read is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

VIDEO: Galesburg Residents Celebrate ‘Big Read’