When the Friends of the Roseburg Public Library launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, we hoped to register 350 children in the first year.

I’m thrilled to report we wildly underestimated the community’s interest in the international book program. After just three months, 425 children are registered for Imagination Library, which mails one new, free, age-appropriate book to youth from birth to fifth birthday each month.

Thanks to generous financial support from The Ford Family Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Mercy Foundation, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation and individual donors, we continue to accept registrations online at www.roseburgpubliclibrary.org or by paper at the library and at Glide Elementary School.

As the local affiliate, the Friends of the Roseburg Public Library manages the entire project, from registrations to finances. Imagination Library covers many of the program costs but requires the affiliate to fund about $25 per child per year. Thanks go to the Friends as well as our early benefactors for launching the program.

Our service area covers children who live in the following zip codes: 97443, 97447, 97470, 97471, 97494 and 97495. Those who live outside the area should contact their local public library; there are Imagination Library service areas throughout Douglas County and the state.

Anyone can register a child in the service area; however, a parent’s phone number or email address is required. The first book is mailed eight to 10 weeks after registration, so please do not register a child who will turn 5 in that timeframe because the database will not process the application.

The books are chosen by a national Blue Ribbon Book Selection Committee, which includes early literacy specialists who review hundreds of books every year. The first book every child receives is “The Little Engine That Could,” the classic by Watty Piper.

The final book, when a child turns 5, is “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” by Nancy Carlson. In between, the books are selected based on child development principles and include board books, hardcovers and paperbacks. Several bilingual English/Spanish books are included every year.

I encourage parents and caregivers to use these books to create a storytime atmosphere at home. Imagination Library’s website (www.imaginationlibrary.com) helps by providing Parent Resources, including early learning tips, coloring and activity sheets and more. The program’s goals include introducing literacy, developing a love of reading and learning and providing our children with the tools to be successful in school and life.

Contact me with questions about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and spread the word. There are about 3,000 children eligible for the program in our service area; wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get books to all of them?

Kris Wiley is the director of the Roseburg Public Library. She can be reached by phone at 541-492-7051 or by email at kwiley@cityofroseburg.org.

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