NEA Big Read: Lab Girl

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

The words "coming spring of 2021," with logos for National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, Chillicothe Public Library, USDA, Chillicothe Park District, Friends of Rocky Glen, Peoria Park District, Trees Forever, Unity Pointe Health Unity Place, National Allianace on Mental Illness, and Blue Ridge Community Farm. Book cover image of Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren.

In spring of 2021, Chillicothe Public Library will host our second NEA Big Read — a one-book-one-community project featuring discussions and programs centered on the memoir Lab Girl, by geobiologist Hope Jahren. Watch this page for information and event dates!

Contributors of all ages are invited to submit their work by March 31 at or bring a hard copy to the library and fill out an entry form at the front desk. In 250 words or less, write a piece that is rooted in your experience or observation of the natural world. It can be poetry, prose, or something in between. One entry per person, please. Entries will be collected and published by the library as an e-book, and selections will be presented at NEA Big Read programs.
Making Room: Eliminating the Barriers to Writing Your Story
Workshop series: March 2, 9, 16, 23 @ 11:00 am – noon
Register by 3pm on Feb. 26 at
It’s time to make room—for you, for your words, for your journey. Whether you’re hung up on the technicalities of writing or burdened with never having enough time to craft your story, let’s remove the barriers together. Workshop open to adults; no writing experience needed. Registration and more information

Book cover of Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

About the book:

This is a nature lover’s story about digging in dirt and discovering new things about old growth. It’s a scientist’s story about running experiments, wondering, asking for funds, and fending off doubt. It’s a Midwesterner’s story of moving to new places and noticing the differences. It’s a girl’s story about becoming what she wants to be. And it’s a woman’s story about fighting stereotypes, sacrificing, feeling vulnerable, trusting in friendship, getting sick, getting help, finding love, and writing it all down. Learn more

Hope Jahren

About the author:

Hope Jahren is an award-winning scientist who has been pursuing independent research in paleobiology since 1996, when she completed her PhD at University of California Berkeley and began teaching and researching first at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then at Johns Hopkins University. She is the recipient of three Fulbright Awards and is one of four scientists, and the only woman, to have been awarded both of the Young Investigator Medals given within the Earth Sciences. She was a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu from 2008 to 2016, where she built the Isotope Geobiology Laboratories, with support from National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. She currently holds the J. Tuzo Wilson professorship at the University of Oslo, Norway. Learn more