The Harlan County Public Library is taking part in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library with the kickoff happening today at the Rebecca Caudill Public Library in Cumberland.
Harlan County Public Library System Director Richard Haynes said the program is new in Harlan.
“Basically what the program does is have a kick-off sign-up in a community, and that’s what we’re doing at each of the libraries,” Haynes said. “The program is for children from birth to 5 years old.”
Haynes said the libraries in Harlan, Evarts and Cumberland will be conducting sign-ups.
“The child gets one book per month, to keep, until they are 5 years old,” Haynes explained. “They’re using our library as a sign up place, we provided them with internet and they sing the children up. Some of our staff will be helping with that.”
Haynes said the libraries will be using the sign ups as an opportunity to introduce the children to the services offered by the public libraries such as checking out books and other library programs.
“We were contacted by the county and city FRYSC (Family Resource and Youth Services Center) agencies,” Haynes said. “They wanted to use our locations as a kickoff.”
Sign-ups will be from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. today at the Rebecca Caudill Public Library in Cumberland, from noon until 2 p.m. at the Harlan Public Library and from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Evarts Public Library on Thursday. Children must be between the ages of 0 and 4 years of age and reside in Harlan County.
According to the website for the Imagination Library at https://imaginationlibrary.com/ the program was launched by Parton in 1995 to benefit the children of her home county in east Tennessee. Her vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income. Parton made the program available to any community that was willing to partner with her to support it locally in 2000.
Another program the libraries sponsor for young children is the Summer Reading Program, an annual program.
“We try to give books away every summer for the Summer Reading Program that’s going to be coming up in May and June,” Haynes said. “We do that for all the children birth through the teenage years. They get a book from the library when they complete our summer reading program.”
According to Haynes, one of the main purposes of the public library is to get book in the hands of children, some of whom may not have access to a lot of books in the home.
“It’s hard to read if you don’t have any books in the house,” Haynes said. “Sometimes, that’s hard to do. Food comes before books, electricity comes before books. Books are a luxury, even though their very important to school readiness and school success later on.”
Haynes said this year’s theme for the Summer Reading Program is sports and fitness.
The Summer Reading Program starts on June 7 in Cumberland and June 9 in Harlan and Evarts. Sign-ups for the Summer Reading Program will begin in May.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde