Big Read returns to Helena

Lewis & Clark Library centers community reading events on Lab Girl

Books & Writers

The Lewis & Clark Library in Helena received $15,000 to host the NEA Big Read in Lewis & Clark County, with activities taking place in October. In mid-September, the library began distributing 1,200 copies of Lab Girl, a memoir by Hope Jahren “about the life of a woman in science, a brilliant friendship, and the profundity of trees.” Copies of the book, as well as a full schedule of events, are available at all Lewis & Clark Library locations.

During October, the library will host an array of activities centered around the theme of the book, including lectures, panel discussions, a writing workshop, activities for kids, teen trivia night, films, a 21-day health challenge, art and crafts for all ages, nature walks, book discussions and more.

Highlights include:

  • Telling Stories One Scientist to Another: Lab Girl and Carroll College’s Women in Science, a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Carroll College, hosted by Dr. Jennifer Glowienka.
  • The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins
    Helena author Jim Robbins explores “The People Who Plant Trees” during the Big Read.

    Author Jim Robbins and The People Who Plant Trees, 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at the library: the well-known local author discusses David Milarch, the central figure in his book, The Man Who Planted Trees, A Story of Lost Groves, The Science of Trees and a Plan to Save the Planet, and tree scientist Hope Jahren, and explores how both have a passion for the simple yet incredibly complex world of trees and the hope they inspire.

  • Creating Your World: A Writing Workshop with Virginia Reeves, 6 p.m. Oct. 15: In her memoir, Lab Girl, Jahren asks, “What if the landscape wasn’t setting the stage for the plants, but the plants were setting their own stage … ?” With this year’s Big Read as inspiration, acclaimed novelist Reeves explores the same question as it pertains to the landscape and setting of fiction in this workshop (head to or call 406-447-1690 to sign up).
  • Montana’s Pioneer Botanists, noon Oct. 25 at the Montana Historical Society: Join editor Rachel Potter as she shares stories of botany and history from the book she co-edited with Peter Lesica. Montana’s Pioneer Botanists brings together more than 30 biographies of Montana botanists and traces the growth of botanical knowledge in this wild and beautiful state.
  • Plant One Tree This Year: Inspired by Lab Girl, the Lewis & Clark Library and Growing Friends of Helena are cooperating to help Helenans plant one tree, or more, in the coming year.

Learn more about the Big Read in Helena by calling 406-447-6681 or visiting For more information about the NEA Big Read, visit