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Go Big Read

Each year Madison Public Library partners with UW-Madison to extend the perennially popular Go Big Read program into the broader community with book discussion groups and programs at our libraries.

The 2018-2019 Go Big Read selection is The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, a portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes written by two-time Pulitzer-Prize finalist and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Egan. Read more about the selection in the press release from UW-Madison.

Madison Public Library will be hosting discussions of the book throughout the fall of 2018. Books for these discussions will be available at the library one month before that library’s discussion date.

Book Club KitIf you have your own book group that would like to discuss this title, there will be more than 100 copies of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes in the book club kit collection available beginning Monday, August 27th. Call the Central Library at 608-266-6300 to request a book club kit.

On the Go Big Read website, you can find discussion questions developed by UW-Madison and Madison Public Library. More resources about the book and the Great Lakes -- including a research guide, an infographic developed by the UW-Madison Limnology Library, a reading list from Water@UW​, and more -- can also be found there.

2018 Go Big Read Selection

Go Big Read

Chancellor Rebecca Blank has selected “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” by Dan Egan for the 2018-19 Go Big Read selection. In his book, Egan paints a portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.

Egan, a Green Bay native, is a two-time Pulitzer-Prize finalist and reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He's also a senior water policy fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences and has covered the Great Lakes since 2003. Egan won an AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award in 2013, the Oakes Award for environmental journalism in 2006, and has received four National Headliner Awards for environmental and science reporting.

Read more about the book’s selection in the UW-Madison press release.

Book Discussions

Special Events

Dan Egan

An Evening With the Author: Dan Egan

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 7:00 P.M.
Memorial Union Theater – Shannon Hall
No tickets required

Our Great Lakes in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities

Tuesday, October 9, 6:30-7:30pm - Lakeview Library
Tuesday, November 14, 6:30-7:30pm - Alicia Ashman Library

Just 3% of the water on earth is freshwater and the Great Lakes have 20% of that supply. Two million people worldwide today face some sort of water-supply shortages and 5 million die from water-borne diseases. What are the specific stressors that face our Great Lakes today and what are we doing about it? Anne Moser of the Wisconsin Water Library will introduce current the science and the issues facing our precious resource.

Plastics in the Great Lakes

Monday, October 22, 6:30-7:30 pm - Sequoya Library

Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is disposed or abandoned in the marine
environment or the Great Lakes. It is a global problem – there is no part of the world left untouched by debris and its impacts. Marine debris is a threat to our environment, navigation safety, the economy, and human health. One type of marine debris of particular concern – plastics – is among the most common type and can be a serious threat to the biota of the water body. The good news is we can all reduce significantly our generation of plastic marine debris. Come hear an introduction to the science of plastics in our Great Lakes and share ways you can prevent it. Presented by Anne Moser of the Wisconsin Water Library at the UW Madison Aquatic Sciences Center.


This program was made possible in part by generous support from: