Hiram College has been awarded a $75,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the institution’s respected community reading program. The program reaches broad and diverse audiences throughout Northeast Ohio and is directed by Hiram’s Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature. The grant will also support a humanities scholar-in-residence, thereby providing new opportunities for scholarly reflection and research through interaction with faculty and staff.
“We have wonderful relationships with the local school systems and our programming has been in every library in the county,” said Kirsten Parkinson, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Lindsay-Crane Center. “This support will help us to engage more people in the reading program. We believe the program helps to build a strong sense of community as more people participate, read the same book, and think critically together about the information presented. These experiences with students from local schools and community members enrich the education for Hiram students who have the opportunity to supplement the classroom instruction with civic engagement.”
The Lindsay-Crane Center is named for two poets who had close ties to Northeast Ohio. Nicholas Vachel Lindsay attended Hiram College from 1897 to 1900, and Harold Hart Crane was born in Garrettsville.
Future community reading programs will build on the Lindsay-Crane’s previous experience with the Big Read community programs. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts enabled Hiram College to offer Big Read programs in 2009 and 2010, reaching 4,000 people through 82 on- and off-campus events that included presentations by well-known authors Tim O’Brien, Les Roberts, and Gini Hartzmark. Off campus events were hosted at Reed Memorial Library, Kent Free Library, multiple branches of the Portage County District Library, and at sites in Kent, Ravenna, Garrettsville and Hiram.
“It’s my dream to one day have everyone in the county reading the same book,” said Parkinson. “We’re obviously not there yet, but this support will enable us to touch more people with our reading program and in doing so, provide Hiram students with experiences outside the class room which foster their interest in making a difference in their community.”