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West Kentucky libraries take part in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program

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The Kentucky Senate recently approved legislation authorizing the Imagination Library program – founded by famed country singer Dolly Parton in 1995 – to become statewide. 

The program allows children five years old and younger to receive free books through participating libraries at no cost to their families. This provides children going into kindergarten with equal learning opportunities and a foundation for academic success.

Bill 164, which passed 33-1 on Tuesday, March 8, still needs to be approved by the House. If approved by the state government, Parton and other collaborators will work together with communities that don’t already participate in the program to create the new Imagination Library of Kentucky program.

The Kentucky Education Cabinet has collaborated with the state government and local libraries to make the program available across Kentucky. Executive Director for the Kentucky Governor's Office of Early Childhood Amy Neal says her office has a regional network with 31 collaboratives operating across the state.

These collaboratives are tasked with uniting local organizations to effectively meet the educational needs of children in a community.

“All that we are doing is around early access, early opportunity and high quality experiences,” Neal says. “That's the most important thing for children in those first five years. If we can change those we can change everything.”

The Christian County Public Library has been involved with the Imagination Program for 12 years, giving out books to as many as 3,500 children a year through the initiative. The library participates with the help of United Way of Kentucky, community donations.

Christian County experiences fluctuations in the number of children that are eligible for the program due to children growing out of the age bracket and military family members moving in and out of the Fort Campbell area. Library director DeeAnna Sova says the program’s flexibility accommodates the needs of those families.

Sova says that her library is unique because it does not have a limit on how many children can partake in the program. Many libraries in west Kentucky have these limits, Sova says, because of the cost – 25 dollars per person.

Sova says the Imagination Library serves as an effective introduction to books for children: “[The Imagination Program] works to make sure when children enter Kindergarten they can follow along with a story and interact.”

Mason Galemore is a Murray State student studying journalism. He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper. Since then has explored different publication avenues such as broadcasting. He hopes to travel as a journalist documenting conflict zones and different cultures. He remembers watching the Arab Spring in 2011 via the news when he was a kid, which dawned in a new age of journalism grounded in social media. His favorite hobbies are hiking, photography, reading, writing and playing with his Australian Shepard, Izzy. He is originally from Charleston, Missouri.
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