March 10, 2016

Backstage at the Egyptian: An Interview with Edith Craig from the DeKalb Public Library

Edith Craig

Interview conducted by Brandon Pugh- Egyptian Theatre Intern 

Edith Craig is the Department Manager for the Programming and Public Relations Department at the DeKalb Public Library. As part of The Big Read program, Edith partnered with the Egyptian Theatre to host In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. The event is Saturday, March 12th, 2016 at 2pm. It is open to the public and is FREE.

Brandon: How long have you been with the DeKalb Public Library?

Edith:  I’ve been at the library for 10 years!

Brandon: What is the Big Read?

Edith: The Big Read is a grant awarded to us by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)in partnership with Arts Midwest. It is a grant that we’ve received for nine consecutive years. We are one of three organizations nationally who has accomplished this feat. This grant allows us to purchase 2,000 copies of In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez and distribute them throughout the county.

Brandon:  How was the Big Read established?

Edith: The Big Read was created in response to the 2004 National Endowment for the Arts report Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, which showed that literary reading was declining among all age groups, with the steepest decline in the youngest age groups. The 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts revealed that more than half of American adults read a work of literature or a book (fiction or nonfiction) not required for work or school. However, adults’ rates of literary reading (novels or short stories, poetry, and plays) dropped back to 2002 levels (from 50 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2012). In addition to addressing this decline, The Big Read aims to build communities through innovative arts programming that engages a diverse audience and connects individuals and organizations through reading and sharing stories.

Brandon:  Why is reading important?

Edith: Reading is important for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons why reading is important because it is a fundamental skill that people need to be able to live healthy and productive lives. It encourages people to function in their community, to find jobs, to develop a healthy mind, and it is how we discover new things.

Brandon: What is your favorite book?

Edith: A librarian doesn’t have a favorite book. A librarian has many! However, one of the books that I enjoy reading over and over is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Brandon: What book are you currently reading, if any?

Edith: I just finished The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (a quick must-read) and am starting Prison Baby: a memoir by Deborah Jiang-Stein.  I have a very diverse reading spectrum.

Brandon: Why do you think hosting this event at the Egyptian Theatre is important?

Edith: First of all, I believe it is important to celebrate literary in all forms and media. Movies being one form of media so I think it is important to include a movie version of a book during Big Read. The library is serves the community and that includes building relationships with its citizens, business, schools, and organizations.  Having the movie play at the historic Egyptian Theatre highlights this ever-growing partnership but it also invites the community to experience something in their home city that they might not have experienced before.