Blogger Meg Smith

In the Spirit of Giving


On this Christmas Eve, our libraries may be filled with a variety of holiday decorations, but the spirit of the season extends beyond the trim and tinsel.  It’s fitting to focus on how this giving spirit relates to our youth services work every single day.  Many of our public libraries demonstrate a vested interest in working together with community partnerships and collaborate with nonprofit organizations or volunteer agencies. 

Like many of your library systems, our Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center in Fayetteville, NC promotes the benefits of these agencies to the customers walking through our doors.  An example of this promotion is our commitment to sharing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library with our families with young children. The reaction has been tremendous.

Though there are variations in this program across our country, its purpose is the same.   Residents of Cumberland County may register their child to receive one free book delivered to his or her home from birth until the child’s fifth birthday, with no charge to the family.  The only requirement is that the child must be a resident of the county where the service is provided. To provide this service to our county residents, the Imagination Library partners with a local county agency, in our case, our local United Way.   

Though our library is not a co-sponsor, we serve as a partner in promotion.  Our library system regularly highlights this program to families at our children’s programs, during outreach events and at our service desks. We assist customers with researching this service online.  We also offer printed forms and will mail the patrons’ registrations free of charge.

The books the children receive feature recent, popular selections as well as recognizable classics in both picture and board book formats.  Dolly Parton Imagination Library’s web site ( relays a wealth of information about the program, including a map of the Dolly Parton sites closest to your library. 

The books provide an opportunity for caregiver and child to connect. Parents share that their children are so excited to receive mail personally addressed to them each month, and these materials encourage families to read other books from these authors and illustrators.

Another benefit of the program is that the books often correlate to special milestones in the young children’s lives; one mother shared that her daughter’s final book for her fifth birthday provided such a positive impression of kindergarten that her child became excited to attend school in the fall. 

Home to Fort Bragg, there is a strong military presence within our community; this program has also connected families with loved ones overseas.  One mother stated that her children share these books with their dad during his deployment. 

With the recent increase in the web site’s usability, patrons are now able to register online. Customers are thrilled to learn they may register on our library’s computers.  One patron shared she “was going to tell everyone she knew and email family and friends to help get the word out that folks in Cumberland County could sign up at the click of a button!”

Our customers receive the benefits when we promote these services. What has been your experience with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library?  What partnerships may be available for your community’s patrons where you can spread this seasonal spirit of giving, 365 days of the year? 


One comment

  1. Molly Moore

    Thanks for this great write-up about how Cumberland Library serves its patrons by promoting Imagination Library. Knox County Public Library has been Knox County’s local sponsor since we introduced it here in 2006. Like United Way in Cumberland, as the sponsor we rely on local partners to promote the program and register children.

    Some of our biggest partners for registration are Head Start, the Knox County Health Department, local labor and delivery units, the Friends of the Knox County Public Library and the Children’s Reading Foundation of Knoxville. We all benefit when the children of Knox County are given the opportunity to have books in the home. KCPL is proud to be the sponsor for this wonderful program. Promoting pre-literacy in our community by giving families the tools to read at home readies children for Kindergarten and prepares them to be life-long learners. And isn’t that what libraries are about–life-long learning?

    I know that libraries across TN promote imagination library, and I hope that wherever there is an Imagination Library program the library is there to support it. If your community does not have Imagination Library– you might consider that your library, in conjunction with your county administration, could start a program of your own. Imagination Library is cropping up all over the US and in the UK and Canada. Visit to find out how to start a program.

    Molly Moore, MLS
    Imagination Library Coordinator
    Knox County Public Library

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *