“Let’s Talk About It: Picturing America” brings American experience to life through literature, visual arts

Contact: Angela Thullen
Program Officer, Communications

For Immediate Release,
February 25, 2010

Update: Deadline extended to April 26; all public libraries now eligible

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CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office announces five new reading and discussion themes based on the popular Let’s Talk About It model and inspired by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Picturing America collection. The Let’s Talk About It: Picturing America series has been developed to support public libraries in their efforts to conduct high quality humanities programs that highlight the Picturing America collection and engage audiences in dynamic, timely conversations about American art and history.

To encourage use of Let’s Talk About: Picturing America, and the Picturing America collection the ALA Public Programs Office and NEH are offering programming grants of $2,000 to 30 public libraries. All public libraries who received the Picturing America collection are eligible to apply by March 31. For more information, and to begin an online application, visit www.programminglibrarian.org/picturingamerica.

The Let’s Talk About It model engages adult audiences in scholar-led, theme-based discussions that explore the best in classic and contemporary literature. Five new themes are eligible for program funding under the March 31 deadline:

  • Land of Opportunity, which explores American journeys in literature
  • Making Tracks, which focuses on railroads in America
  • Object of Art, which examines image in American Indian literature
  • Places in the Heart, which highlights human experiences shaped by place
  • The Work of Freedom: Individual and Communal, which explores African American history through literature

Reading lists, a comprehensive program planning guide and thematic descriptions for the Let’s Talk About It: Picturing America themes may be found at www.programminglibrarian.org/picturingamerica. In spring of 2010, scholarly essays and additional recommended reading lists will be added to the site to enhance discussion of five new themes.

Through its Picturing America initiative, NEH has provided a collection of 20 double-sided, laminated reproductions depicting great works of American art to more than 50,000 classrooms and libraries nationwide. Complete information about Picturing America, including a list of participating schools and libraries, is available online at http://picturingamerica.neh.gov.

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service in all types and sizes of libraries. Successful library programming initiatives have included “Let’s Talk About It” reading and discussion series, traveling exhibitions, film discussion programs, the Great Stories CLUB, Live! @ your library and more. Recently, the ALA Public Programs Office developed www.ProgrammingLibrarian.org, an online resource center bringing librarians timely and valuable information to support them in the creation of high-quality cultural programs for their communities. For more information on the ALA Public Programs Office, visit www.ala.org/publicprograms.