Imagination Library luncheon celebrates programs growth

TROY — Country music star and philanthropist, Dolly Parton, attended a luncheon on Tuesday, Aug. 9, to celebrate the success of her Imagination Library program in Ohio. It was attended by First Lady, Fran DeWine, and representatives from libraries across Ohio.

“Ohio has more children enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library than any other state with almost 50% of all Ohio children under age 5 enrolled,” said Executive Director of the Troy-Miami County Public Library Rachelle Via.

“I’ve heard many times how Dolly started the program to honor her father; how she wanted all children under age 5 to be in the program no matter their socio-economic status; and that she never imagined how large the program would grow; but it was so much fun to hear her tell the story.”

The program has had a huge impact on children in Ohio in just 4 years after its inception. Forty-five percent of children under the age of five are enrolled in the program.

In the Miami County, that number jumps to 61%.

“The program has been available county-wide in Miami County since January 2014. All children under the age of five are eligible for the program,” said Via. “[There are] 3,950 children receiving books each month in our county. Since 2014, about 10,000 children have received books. We’ve given out more than 200,000 books in the past eight years.”

But what has made this program so successful and spurred the growth Parton and DeWine celebrated on Tuesday?

“Libraries are great, but not all parents use them and even when you do, you have to bring the books back. Studies have shown that children who have books in their home do better in school. It’s really that simple,” said Via.

While Tuesday’s luncheon was a moment of celebration and recognition, the program hopes to continue to grow in the coming years. To register a child in the Miami County, visit: https://www.tmcpl.org/services/DPIL

“The luncheon was a bucket list item for me. Just to be in the same room as a national treasure like Dolly Parton was truly amazing. It was exciting the welcome the founder of this remarkable program to Ohio,” said Via.