Lancaster Public Library

Patrons leave the Lancaster Public Library in a file photo from 2013.

The Lancaster Public Library hopes everyone will read a very specific book this year.

The city library, at 125 N. Duke St., will participate for the first time in the NEA Big Read, a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts to encourage residents of a community to read a book and share their insights about it through a variety of programs.

Lancaster will focus its attentions on “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea, a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame.

The 2010 novel is about Nayeli, a young woman who serves tacos in the poor Mexican village of Tres Camarones, who realizes that most of their men have crossed the border seeking work in the United States.

That’s left the village dangerously underpopulated and defenseless against drug bandidos. Inspired by watching “The Magnificent Seven,” Nayeli and three friends decide to cross the border and recruit seven men to repopulate and protect the town.

Heather Sharpe, executive director at the Lancaster library, said novel was chosen from a list of 28 books provided by the NEA for participating organizations to choose from.

This is the first time Lancaster has applied for the grant, Sharpe said.

“We have developed a unique plan to celebrate our selection and look forward to numerous opportunities for exploration and conversation,” she said.

The annual Big Read is intended to broaden “our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book” and “inspire conversation and discovery,” library officials said.

The library received a $14,000 grant to host the program, which runs from September through June. Lancaster is one of 75 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive a grant this year.

Details of the program will be unveiled at a press conference Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

“We are planning about 15 events ... to be a part of the Big Read in Lancaster” before the program ends next spring, according to Leigh Kaliss, the library’s volunteer and outreach coordinator.

Programs will include 10 book discussion activities, she said, as well as movie screenings.

The NEA program began in 2006. Since then, according to library officials, the program has provided more than $19 million in grants, and more than 4.8 million Americans have attended Big Read events.

The NEA Big Read in Lancaster is presented in partnership with League of Women Voters of Lancaster County, ASSETs Lancaster, Bright Side Opportunities Center, Fulton Theater, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County, Church World Service Lancaster, the Candy Factory, Lancaster County Workforce Development Board, the Junior League of Lancaster, San Juan Bautista Church, the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, YWCA Lancaster, the Ware Center and McCaskey High School.

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