Library working ‘9 to 5’ to support Calgarians through partnership with Dolly Parton’s foundation

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has teamed up with the Calgary Public Library to give free books to children in the city.

Inspired by her dad’s illiteracy, Parton started Imagination Library in 1995. According to the foundation’s site, the program “spans five countries and gifts over one million free books each month to children around the world.”

“It’s hard to imagine but it’s actually delivered 90 million books to children in more than 2,000 communities,” said CPL Foundation CEO Tracy Johnson on Sunday.

“The Calgary Public Library is just the next one.”

Thanks to donors, Johnson said the library launched My First Bookshelf in January.

“It delivers age-appropriate personalized books once a month to children from birth to age five. It’s just right there in its title. They are building their own first bookshelf for free. The books are theirs to keep,” she said.

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The foundation cites research that says “even 20 books at home fosters a love of learning.”

Read more: Country singer Dolly Parton to read bedtime stories to children online during COVID-19 crisis

The initial goal was to reach 1,000 kids this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic increased the target to 2,000, according to Johnson.

“We continue to fundraise for this initiative,” she said. “What’s so amazing about it is because of the partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a donation as little as $5.50 per month can sponsor a child’s participation in this program.”

Other library initiatives

Library closures have left people without resources during the pandemic, so new initiatives have been created to fix that gap.

The library launched the Borrow a Computer pilot in January, Johnson said. The need was apparent, and currently, there are 200 laptops loaned out to the community for eight weeks at a time.

“There were thousands [of people] in our community that were isolated and unable to connect, and computer access was our lifeline, whether for school, work or connecting with friends and family,” she said, adding the program has a waitlist.

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CPL launched the Wellness Desk in October 2020. It’s a free program that brings trained social workers into the Central Library for mental health support.

Click to play video 'Calgary Public Library to reopen all locations as of March 10' Calgary Public Library to reopen all locations as of March 10

Calgary Public Library to reopen all locations as of March 10

CPL reopens

The library reopened on March 10 and will return to regular service hours on Monday.

“If you do plan to visit, we just ask you wear your mask, maintain physical distance and sanitize your hands as you enter. We are also asking that you limit your visits to one hour,” Johnson said.

“Please note that there’s no eating and drinking allowed. But you can browse the collection, come in to study, access printing, Wi-Fi, copying and so much more. If you’re not quite ready to visit us in person yet, that’s no problem too. We still have our curbside systems available as well as all of our digital offerings on our website.”

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