The Shelby County Libraries and the Shelby County United Way launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in March of 2015. This evidence based program mails a brand new book each month to children under the age of 5. Children that participate in the program from birth are better prepared for Kindergarten, spend more time with their care givers, and visit their local libraries more often. Wilson Health joined the collaboration and enrolls newborns at the birthing center, a national best practice. The community response has been overwhelming as enrollment goals have been surpassed. Today, 2,457 children are receiving age appropriate books monthly representing 70% of Shelby County children under the age of 5.
Once a child reaches the age of 5, he or she graduates from the program. Altrusa International of Sidney, Ohio, Inc. secured a grant to provide quarterly graduation parties for these children. The children are provided with a special Imagination Library tote bag, one final book as selected by Altrusans and a graduation ceremony complete with cupcakes and certificates. To date, there have been 1,528 graduates of the Imagination Library program. Shelby County Libraries Executive Director, Suzanne Cline, states, “The ceremony, held at the Amos Memorial Public Library is a celebration of the success for completing the program, and also serves to introduce the children to library services. It is our hope the children will become regular library users to continue on the path of reading.”
The investment to adopt Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Shelby County has exceeded $61,000 a year to the community funders. In addition to the Shelby County Libraries and the Shelby County United Way, program funders include Sidney Altrusa, Sidney Kiwanis, Sidney Rotary, the Monarch Legacy Fund, P.O.W.E.R., Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, The DEB Fund, private donations, and Wilson Health.
The Imagination Library program is international in scope and has seen huge success with over 119 Million books mailed as of April, 2019. Shelby County numbers are nearing the 100,000 mark, with just under 98,000 books mailed since the inception of the program. Scott Barr, President, Shelby County United Way, “We are overwhelmed with the success of the program and the reach it has had impacting children and families from every community in Shelby County. We are so appreciative of our ongoing funding partners. This is a great investment in Shelby County.”
To enroll a Shelby County child under the age of 5, please visit imaginationlibrary.com and click (Register My Child). Once enrolled, a child will start to receive books in 6-8 weeks.