Eugene Library Delivers Imagination

Dolly Parton is making sure the kids of Eugene are getting the books they need to improve their literacy, regardless of their family’s income. Parton’s Imagination Library, which partially funds the monthly mailing of age-appropriate books to children ages birth to four in communities nationally and internationally, has come to Eugene. The response from residents has been enthusiastic.

The program, spearheaded by the country legend herself, is in more than 1,600 cities and towns and, in each instance, is funded by the Imagination Library and by a local charity that pledges a certain dollar amount per year. In this case, the Eugene Public Library Foundation has pledged to make the program possible and completely free for every child living within Eugene city limits.

The online signup opened Sept. 5, and since then 1,473 of the approximately 8,000 eligible Eugene children have registered for the program, which Eugene Public Library Customer Experience Manager LaVena Nohrenberg says was “around where the Imagination Library said we’d be in 18 months.”

Eugene resident Allison Howard, whose 7-month-old daughter is registered for the program, says that “I haven’t ever pledged money to the Public Library Foundation before, but I definitely plan on it, especially since $25 per year funds a whole year of a child’s experience in the program … It’s such a big impact for so little money, and I’m benefitting from the program, so I feel like I should give back in some way.”

Although community members’ pledges to the library foundation do ultimately fund part of the program, Nohrenberg stresses that the families that benefiting from the program are under no obligation to donate.

“It’s the kind of program that you hear about and think, there’s got to be a catch,” she says, “and there’s beautifully not. It’s a gift the foundation is giving to the children of our community.”

While the Imagination Library began as an effort to promote literacy in underprivileged areas, it also strives to solidify the habit of reading with children in communities that may already be literacy-conscious.

“In this life that’s so busy and crazy, it’s easy just to gloss over things like reading,” Howard says. “Something like this is really important to my husband and I to remind ourselves to take that moment with her every single day.”

To donate or sign up, go to

More upcoming literary events include a reading by authors Nick Dybek and Inara Verzemnieks at 7:30 pm Oct. 10 at Valley Library, 201 S.W. Waldo Pl., Corvallis. An “Afternoon in Parisburg” fundraiser for the building of a Harrisburg community library will be at 6 pm Oct. 12 at Capitello Wines, 540 Charnelton St., and Olympic track and field athlete Nick Simmons will be signing books at 7:46 pm Oct. 17 at City Hall Fountain Plaza, 225 Fifth St., Springfield.