Friday, December 28, 2007

Crossville Chronicle reports Imagination Library seeks local support

Ever heard of a good problem? The folks with the Imagination Library in Cumberland County have.The program began in the county in May 2005. In June 2005, the program was able to send out 123 books to children eligible for the program. In December 2007, 1,426 books were mailed, reaching 56 percent of children eligible in Cumberland County. Since the program came into the community, the Imagination Library has mailed 32,959 books to children registered with the program.According to Julie Shanks of the Imagination Library, that's a larger portion than was anticipated at this point. She said she thought enrollment would have been around 40 percent.That's why Shanks says the Imagination Library needs the support of anyone willing in the community in order for the program to continue reaching children at the same level. Thus far, the amount of children reached monthly has only increased since the program came into Cumberland County.The Imagination Library is available to children from birth to age 5 at no cost to the family. Each book is hardcover and is selected by a panel to suit the child's stage of development.Reaching children in 47 states, with the recent addition of Canada and Great Britain, the Imagination Library has given away 4.5 million books and has had 420,000 children enrolled in the program.The Imagination Library first came about through Dolly Parton. Parton became motivated by the fact that, despite her father being the smartest man she said she ever knew, he was illiterate. Parton wondered about her father's potential had he been able to read.Once Parton became successful, she grew interested in making a difference in children's lives in her hometown of Sevierville, no matter their family's income. In 1996, she established the Imagination Library for the children of Sevier County. There, the Dollywood Foundation funds the program at 100 percent. Cumberland County, however, counts on 50 percent of its support coming from local donors.