What is the history of IL in Eugene? When did it start? Who started it?

The program started when Doug Barber, a Foundation Board member, saw a brief story about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on TV’s PBS Newshour. What a great idea! He thought. Why can’t we do that in Eugene? He brought the idea to the Foundation Board, who, in partnership with the library, agreed to sponsor the program here in Eugene. Here we are six years later, and the program is serving about 3,700 preschoolers every month!

What are program enrollment and graduation numbers like?

Imagination Library of Eugene enrollment numbers have been steady since the start of the program. The program averages 141 new enrollments monthly with an average of 58 participants graduating monthly. IL of Eugene consistently sees higher counts of new enrollees each month than graduates.

What is an Imagination Library Affiliate?

A local affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that raises funds for and administers the program for a certain area. The Eugene Public Library Foundation is the local affiliate of Imagination Library of Eugene. The primary roles of a local affiliate are to enroll local children aged 0-5 in their coverage area, fund the book cost of children enrolled, and promote the program locally to drive funding and enrollment. IL of Eugene is unique in the way that Eugene Public Library assists in administering the program by keeping the list of participants that books are mailed to each month.
All books are sent out as media mail through the USPS and the average cost of books is $2.10/child for postage and books combined each month.

Have there been any major changes with the program during this period of time?

It has been very fortunate that the Imagination Library program has been able to continue uninterrupted during this period of uncertainty. The national program that sends out the books for local affiliates (like Eugene Public Library Foundation) announced in late March of 2020 that the shipping of books would continue without delay and wrote, “Our supply chain, fulfillment and postal systems are all operational, having been deemed ‘essential services’ by governing authorities,” in an email to affiliates.  

How can I get involved with the Imagination Library Advisory Board?

We are looking for Advisory Board members who are passionate about the program to support our volunteer efforts to fundraise, recruit new children, build partnerships, and spread the word about the program. If you are interested in joining the Imagination Library Advisory Board or partnering with the program, please email reed@eplfoundation.org.

How do I sign a child up? Can a child enroll if they live outside of Eugene?

With Springfield and rural Lane County having Imagination Library affiliates now, there are more opportunities for children to enroll in the area! To search to see if an address is covered, please use this link for Imagination Library enrollment. 

How are books for the program chosen?

Each year, the esteemed Blue Ribbon Book Selection Committee, a specially selected panel of early childhood literacy experts, is responsible for reviewing hundreds of potential titles for inclusion in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library national. The Blue Ribbon Book Selection Committee is a part of the Dollywood Foundation in Tennessee and takes great care in choosing books that meet the different needs of children as they progress from birth to age five. This committee select books for all national and international affiliates. All books are published by Penguin Random House. For more information, visit the Imagination Library headquarter’s site.

What is the cost of the program? How much does IL of Eugene need to raise?

Current costs for books and shipping are approximately $7300/month to serve around 3600 children, with an annual cost anticipated to be $90,000. Donors like you raise 100% of the funds for the books and shipping. Eugene Public Library provides in-kind staff time to support enrollment and outreach, while Eugene Public Library Foundation provides in-kind staff time to support outreach and fundraising.

Right now, how do we reach families?

A lot of our program recruitment is word of mouth between families and with younger siblings enrolling. Families are the experts on how great the program is, and we see a lot of person-to-person recruitment. Eugene Public Library recruits families through their outreach activities, and we are always looking to build partnerships with local preschools, social service agencies, and community centers to spread the word. Starting this fall, we are going to increase bilingual Spanish/English recruitment materials to be more accessible to our community at large.