NEA Big Read & Little Read: Stillwater - Station Eleven & Blackout

 Big Read web



"NEA Big Read: Stillwater" is the Stillwater Public Library's tenth community-wide reading series. Survival and resilience will be explored through the books "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel and the "NEA Little Read" title "Blackout" by John Rocco.  The shared community reading experience highlights the important message that mere survival is insufficient. Arts, reading, and community ties make survival worthwhile.

The series takes place Oct. 2-Nov. 11 and includes programs with partners Oklahoma State University School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences; Oklahoma State University Libraries; Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar, and City of Stillwater. 

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


Registration is open both online and in the library. Click here to sign-up for a book discussion to get a free copy of "Station 11." Sign-up for Big Read events (they're on the same page as the book discussions, on a separate tab).

  • Registrants may pick up a free copy of the Big Read title "Station 11" and the Little Read title "Blackout" while supplies last.
  • To get a copy of "Station 11," you will also need to sign up for one book discussion. Discussions will be held online and in outdoor venues.
  • Each event requires registration, and some are limited in the number of participants that can attend.


We appreciate your participation in the series. When you read your copy of the novel, you may wonder if the library purposefully chose "Station 11" due to the current pandemic. We did not. "Station 11" was chosen over two years ago when staff applied for the NEA Big Read grant, and the series has been delayed and redesigned three times in hopes that we could provide our readers with an experience like those they have come to enjoy from us. Because this series is occurring during a resurgence in Covid-19 transmission, it, unfortunately, will not look like the library's past community reads. The series has fewer events; there will be fewer people, and none of the events will take place inside the library.  

Nevertheless, we plan to make this series a celebration of the main theme of "Station 11" - merely surviving is not enough. Opportunities to read, learn about, and discuss this novel together make the difficulty of the past year more survivable. We do ask that all participants work together to keep one another safer; therefore, the library strongly recommends, but cannot require, that participants practice the following during the series:

  • Do not attend an event if you are ill or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Remain at least six feet apart from other attendees not in your household
  • If you have not already, get the Covid-19 vaccination

All programs have been moved to outdoor venues to provide open space with better air circulation to help reduce the chance of transmission through the build-up of aerosol particles.

Please check frequently for cancellations, postponements, and venue changes throughout the series. Library staff will post all changes to its website, social media, and participant email.



  • During open hours (Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar)
    As Stillwater's very own "Museum of Civilization," the Sheerar is featuring the exhibit "COVID-19: A Year in Review" and collecting Stillwater's memories and experiences of the pandemic as a way to document this unprecedented time. The exhibit will eventually inform people of the future about what was experienced firsthand during the pandemic. The museum also hopes to display personal memorabilia on loan for the duration of the Big Read series.

  • During open hours (National Wrestling Hall of Fame)
    Museums play a large role in "Station Eleven," and we encourage readers to visit their hometown museums during the course of the series. From Oct. 2-Nov. 11, you can visit the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for just $1/person by showing your Stillwater Public Library card! Receive additional discounts to other Oklahoma museums when you sign up for a "Station Eleven" book discussion and get your free copy of the book. 
  • Click here to Download
    Stillwater Community Art Scavenger Hunt
    - During difficult times, humans need more than survival, they also need the arts. Discover local art hidden in plain sight in our community. The scavenger hunt can be downloaded online or request a copy at the library. Complete the scavenger hunt by Nov. 11 and turn it in at the Library Help Desks to win a prize.
  • One Community, One Challenge Solar Lantern Challenge- Repurpose a solar path light into a solar lantern then join us at a sunset community gathering on Nov 18 at the Botanic Gardens. Pick up materials at the Stillwater Public Library or Prairie Arts Center and start creating! This project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and in conjunction with the NEA Big/Little Read: Stillwater. For more information and a schedule of events visit our website:

October 2

  •  10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Couch Park)- This event has moved to Sunday Oct 3rd 2-4pm due to predicted rain. Kids and Families Little Read Kick-off (No registration limit - Registration preferred) - After enjoying "Blackout" by John Rocco as our newest storywalk, jam with local children's musician Monty Harper, learn about solar energy with OSU's One Community, One Challenge: Common Ground and have plenty of outdoor family fun! Pick up a free copy of "Blackout at the event to participate in the library's first-ever Little Read!
  • 7 p.m. (SPL Courtyard)
    Big Read Kick-off with Oklahoma Musician, Edgar Cruz
     (Limited to 100 - Registration required) - Kick off "NEA Big Read: Stillwater" with the musical artistry of Oklahoma guitarist Edgar Cruz. The solo concert will take place in the library courtyard. Drinks, light refreshments, and twinkle lights will be provided. Please bring your own lawn chair or blanket for seating. Register in advance to help staff plan appropriately.

October 7

  • 5:30 p.m. (Lake McMurtry)
    Outdoor Survival Skills
    (Limited to 40 - Registration required) - Learn skills that may help you survive in an unexpected emergency, including starting a fire, finding water, creating shelter, and finding your way back to civilization. Presented by backpacking experts from Lake McMurtry.

October 9

  • 7:30 p.m. (SPL Courtyard) 
    Outdoor Screening of Isle of Dogs (PG-13) (Limited to 75 - Registration required) - Watch Isle of Dogs directed by Wes Anderson (PG-13) outside in the library courtyard! In this animated film, an outbreak of dog flu has spread through the city of Megasaki, Japan. The Mayor has demanded all dogs be sent to Trash Island and a young boy named Atari sets out on an adventure to find his lost dog, Spots, with the help of five other dogs. Please bring chairs or blankets for seating. Popcorn and drinks will be provided. Register in advance to help staff plan appropriately.

October 12

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (SPL)
    Flu and Covid-19 Shots ClinicDrop by the library to receive a free flu shot or Covid-19 vaccine, as available and while supplies last, from the Payne County Health Department. ID will not be required. The clinic will not be providing vaccines for children under 18 which require parental consent. Parents and guardians are encouraged to visit the Payne County Health Department to receive flu and COVID vaccinations.  PCHD requires all attendees wear a mask.

October 17

  • 2 p.m. (SPL Courtyard)- Event and waitlist are full
    Rainwater Harvesting (Limited to 20 - Registration required) - Rain barrels collect free rainwater to water gardens, trees, and lawns. In "Station Eleven," water collection was a necessity. But, it can also help save you money on water bills, reduce your water footprint, and help recharge our rivers, lakes, and aquifers. Workshop participants will learn about the benefits of rain barrels, how to install and use them, and even get a free rain barrel to take home and use. This workshop is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required.
  • 2 p.m.- 4p.m. (Prairie Arts Center)
    Lantern Hands-On Workshop (Limited to 20- Registration required) Free hands-on, artist-led workshop will assist community members in designing a lantern by demonstrating different approaches to creating a beautiful lantern case/cover as part of the One Community, One Challenge Solar Lantern Challenge. Materials provided. Children under 12 will need to be accompanied by an adult. Sign up by emailing by October 15.
  • 3 p.m.- 4p.m. (Prairie Arts Center)
    Solar Cell Workshop (Limited to 20- Registration required) Build your own solar cell! You can learn more about how solar cells work from solar science education expert, Dr. Doug Weirick as part of the One Community, One Challenge Solar Lantern Challenge. Materials provided. Children under 12 will need to be accompanied by an adult. Sign up by emailing by October 15.

October 19

  • 6:30 p.m. (Southern Woods Ballfield)
    Pandemics of the Past (Limited to 75 - Registration required) - Learn about the history of pandemics with Dr. Aaron Wendelboe, a nationally recognized epidemiologist, and public health leader, most recently serving as the interim Oklahoma State Epidemiologist in coordinating the elements of the State's COVID-19 response. He currently teaches at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. 

October 23

  • 1-4 p.m. (Prairie Arts Center)
    Teen Comic & Zine Workshop (Limited to 15 teens - Registration required) - The graphic novel "Dr. Eleven" is a major theme in "Station Eleven." Teens in grades 6-12 can attend a comic and zine-making workshop and create and produce their own graphic story! The hands-on workshop will be led by OSU Graphic Design professor James Ewald and takes place at Prairie Arts Center. The workshop is limited to 15 teens. Registration is required.

October 23 & 24 (Lake McMurtry)

  • Overnight Backpacking Clinic (Fee Program, limited registration) - Want to learn more in-depth backpacking and survival skills? Come check out Lake McMurtry Friend's overnight backpacking clinic taught by local experts. Learn how to safely camp overnight, build fires, purify water, practice "leave no trace" techniques, and more. The initial meeting date is Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $50 if participants bring their own gear or $90 to rent equipment. Register at or call 405-880-2463.  

October 26

  • 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (SPL – 3rd Floor Reception)
    Red Cross Blood Drive (By appt. on Red Cross website) 
    The Red Cross requires that all participants wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

    Giving blood is a simple thing to do, but it can make a big difference in the life of others. And with the ongoing pandemic, the Red Cross needs the help of blood donors to meet the needs of patient care. Appointments must be scheduled in advance via the Red Cross website. There are 28 appointments available. Photo ID is required. 16-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+-year-olds must weigh at least 110 pounds. Visit to schedule a donor appointment.

October 27

  • 5 p.m. (Online) 
    Conversation with Blackout Author John Rocco (Limited to 500 - Registration required) - Meet virtually with NYT bestselling author and illustrator John Rocco as he discusses his Caldecott Honor book, and our Little Read selection, "Blackout." Rocco will discuss his writing and illustrating process, his inspiration for "Blackout," and answer readers' questions.

November 6

  • 1-3 p.m. (Lake McMurtry)
    Survival Skills & Arts for Kids (Limited to 40 children - Registration required) - Explore two sides of the great outdoors with survival skills and nature art at Lake McMurtry! Elementary ages K-5.

November 7

  • 11 a.m. (SPL Courtyard)
    Oklahoma Shakespeare Presents Children’s Classics (Limited to 100 - Registration required) - Oklahoma Shakespeare presents "Professor Spillsby Hunts for Treasure!" Journey with our heroes to some of Italy's greatest cities as they get help from many of Shakespeare's most famous female characters. This play is sure to fire the adventurous imagination of girls and boys alike! The performance will take place outdoors in the library's courtyard. Please bring chairs or blankets for seating. Light refreshments will be provided.

November 11

  • 6:30-8 p.m. (Online)
    Conversation with Station 11 Author Emily St. John Mandel (Limited to 500 - Register for online link)
  • 6:30-8 p.m. (OSU Airport Hanger)
    Watch Party at the OSU Airport Hanger (Limited to 50 - Registration required)
  • 8:15-9:30 p.m. (OSU Airport Hanger)
    One-on-one five minutes online meet and greet with Emily St. John Mandel (For 9 grand prize drawing winners)


NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The series has been made possible through a Big Read grant along with funding from Stillwater Public Library Trust, Friends of the Stillwater Public Library, and Oklahoma State University Library.


Series partners include Oklahoma State University School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences, Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar, National Wrestling Hall of Fame, City of Stillwater Stormwater Management, OSU's One Community, One Challenge: Common Ground, Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, Grand River Dam Authority, Lake McMurtry Friends, Inc., Payne County Health Department, American Red Cross of Northwest Oklahoma, Stillwater Area Sports Association, OSU Flight Center, City of Stillwater’s Community Resources, Prairie Arts Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and Visit Stillwater.

We'd also like to thank the following Oklahoma museums that have partnered with us for this program: First Americans Museum, Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Sam Noble Museum and Will Rogers Memorial Museum.