Burlington County Library System to celebrate ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’

The books is the focus of the National Endowment for the Arts “Big Read” program that kicks off March 2.

The Burlington County Library System (BCLS) has been awarded grant funding to host the National Endowment for the Arts “Big Read” program, a special month-long celebration kicking off March 2 that will feature book discussions, film screenings and more focusing on Julia Alvarez’s historical fiction “In the Time of the Butterflies.”

Based on the lives of four sisters who participated in underground efforts to topple Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s three-decade-long dictatorial regime in the Dominican Republic, the book will be the focus of events scheduled at all eight BCLS libraries.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, library officials say NEA Big Read broadens peoples’ understanding of their world, communities, and themselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

Officials say BCLS was one of just 75 non-profit organizations nationwide selected to receive grant funding to host the NEA Big Read between September 2017 and June 2018.

This is the second time BCLS has received funding to offer a series of programs focusing on a single NEA Big Read selection.

In addition to being an author, Julia Alvarez is also a poet, essayist, NEA creative writing fellow, and cofounder of a coffee farm and literacy center in the Dominican Republic where she lived until the age of 10, according to the NEA website.

“In the Time of the Butterflies” is her second novel and is based on the story of the four Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic, three of whom became symbols of resistance after being murdered at the order of Trujillo.

The BCLS NEA Big Read programming will kick off March 2 at 6:30 p.m., when the Burlington County Library in Westampton presents “Code Name: Butterflies,” a documentary about the Mirabal sisters written, directed and produced by filmmaker Cecilia Doymeko.

Afterward, the filmmaker, who is also the president of the Mariposa Cultural Foundation, will lead a question-and-answer session with the audience. www.mariposaculturalfoundation.net

On March 9 at 6:30 p.m., the Burlington County Library will present keynote speaker Eric Roorda, author of “The Dictator Next Door: the Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1935–1940.”

A professor at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., Roorda teaches Latin American history and his research interests include the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the U.S. Caribbean. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the Dominican Republic and is a member of the Dominican Academy of History.

The Big Read finale event will be a performance by Eco del Sur on March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Burlington County Library Auditorium. Founded with the idea to preserve the heritage and culture of different Latin American regions, the band released its first album in 2001. The show will feature lively musical arrangements and traditional dances highlighting the culture and beauty of the Dominican Republic.

For more information about the NEA Big Read at BCLS and a full list of events taking place throughout libraries in the system, visit www.bcls.lib.nj.us.