Pioneer Library System announces finalists for Big Read Writing Contest.

The Pioneer Library System has announced the finalists for The Big Read: Old School Short Story Writing Contest.

The winners for a high school division and a college division will be selected by Tobias Wolff, author of “Old School,” the featured novel in The Big Read activities in the library system this March and April.

The contest mirrors a section of Wolff’s novel, where students at a private boarding school compete for the honor of meeting visiting authors by entering a writing contest with the guest author selecting the winning entry.

The winners will be announced at The Big Read “Study Hall” panel discussion at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at the Old School Auditorium inside the Old School Business Center in Moore. Each winner and a guest will be invited to a private reception Wolff will attend during his visit to Oklahoma in late April.

High school division finalists are:

Carrie O’Quinn, an 18-year-old senior from Moore

Madolyn Phillips, a 16-year-old junior from Norman

Laura Smith, a 17-year-old junior from Moore

College division finalists are:

Matt Baker, Rowley, Mass., an Oklahoma Baptist University senior double-majoring in English and Anthropology

Andrea Johnson, Shawnee, an Oklahoma Baptist University senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Digital Cinema Production

Andrew Wright, Chiayi, Taiwan, an Oklahoma Baptist University freshman majoring in Creative Writing

The “Study Hall” panel discussion is a natural partnership for the library with Moore’s Old School Business Center, which in its early days served as the first school building in Moore.

William Bernhardt, author of dozens of books that have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, will be the moderator for the discussion. Panelists are Dr. Tom Boyd, David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma; Dr. Bill Hagen, retired Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University; Dr. Joe Foote, Dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma; and Robert A. French, a local attorney specializing in intellectual property rights.

The group will discuss the impact and significance of the book and also answer questions from audience members. “Old School” is the featured novel in The Big Read this year, with libraries and communities throughout the PLS service area hosting programs and events related to the novel.

This is a good opportunity for members of book discussion groups who dedicate one of their monthly meetings to learn a little more about the book and perhaps see it in a different way. Book discussions are being offered at each PLS library, and are open to anyone who wishes to attend.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, designed to give readers an opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their community and to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

The Big Read was created in response to reports by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2004 and 2007 that found that literary reading in American was declining rapidly among all groups, especially among the young. These declines in reading had civic, social and economic implications: literary readers were more likely to perform volunteer and charity work, visit art museums, attend performing arts events and attend sporting events.

The Pioneer Library System began its annual Big Read event in 2007 featuring “The Grapes of Wrath,” followed by “Bless Me Ultima,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Things They Carried,” and “The Joy Luck Club.” Each title has presented different opportunities for discussion and community partnerships and events.

The Big Read is sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Oklahoma Humanities Council, Norman Arts Council, University of Oklahoma Outreach, the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, LevyMart Public Relations, the Pioneer Library Foundation and the Pioneer Library System.

For more information, go online to