As part of Duquesne University’s Big Read Program, Gumberg Library sponsored a series of events during the spring 2017 semester around the novel When the Emperor was Divine, by Julie Otsuka. Funded with support from an NEA grant awarded to Duquesne University in Spring 2016, the program allowed the library to host eight events and forty-five book groups for fourteen hundred participants. Nearly one thousand books were provided, free of charge, to participants in the Pittsburgh community.

The novel, which relates the experiences of a Japanese-American family forced to live in an internment camp during World War II, allowed the community to have a conversation on the historical and moral issues surrounding immigration, xenophobia, and refugee experiences.