Middletown foundation passing Dolly Parton program to libraries

Traci Barnett, chief executive officer of the Middletown Community Foundation, said it’s the “right time” for the MCF to pass operations of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to local public libraries.

The MCF Board of Trustees agreed, voting in favor of transitioning the program to the libraries in Middletown, Franklin/Springboro over the first few months of 2020.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book-gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income. Launched by country singer Dolly Parton in 1995, the program has expanded across the United States and internationally.

MORE: Let these parents tell you what a free books program has done for their kids

The MCF mailed the first books in January 2009 to 316 children in Middletown. Now, nearly 3,400 children in Madison, Monroe, Trenton, Franklin and Middletown receive free books each month, under the program administered by the MCF.

In the coming months the local libraries will begin administering the program, an arrangement that all three organizations agree is a win-win proposition.

“We have loved being a part of this wonderful program and we are so happy that our area libraries are excited to move the program into the future and to expand it into more communities,” said Patti Gage, MCF board president.

Conversations regarding the transition of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library were spurred by interest from Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine to expand the program throughout the state.

“It was really a situation of right place right time,” Barnett said.

MORE: For 10 years, they’ve helped make Middletown kids better readers. Here’s how.

She said it was “impossible not to feel the enthusiasm” that Travis Bautz, executive director of MidPointe Library and Martha Bush, executive director of the Franklin-Springboro library, expressed about this program.

Bautz said there are some logistical aspects of the transition that have to be figured out, but he hopes to integrate the program into the library’s services this spring.

With the assistance of the volunteer group Women Enriching Lives, the MCF has provided more than 10,000 children in its service area with a book per month since it implemented the program in 2009. Going forward, the program to be known as the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, will ensure that young children across Ohio have access to free, quality books.

About the Author