Post Author
Alison Gowans
Post Type

The Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation will celebrate five years of bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Cedar Rapids children and will mail the 300,000th free book to a Cedar Rapids child in early 2023. 

To mark this milestone, the Library Foundation is throwing a birthday party in honor of Dolly Parton at the Downtown Library on Saturday, Jan. 21, 10 am-noon.  

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails free, age-appropriate books to the homes of children from birth to their fifth birthday. All Cedar Rapids children under age 5 are eligible to participate, regardless of income.  

As the Cedar Rapids affiliate for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the Library Foundation brought the program to Cedar Rapids in 2018. Our local Imagination Library is averaging 5,500 children actively enrolled per month. To date, almost 5,000 Cedar Rapids children have graduated from the program by turning five. 

The celebration, sponsored by Sunrise Builders, is open to all and will include family-friendly activities, Dolly Parton karaoke, and birthday cookies. Caregivers may register their children under 5 to be part of the Imagination Library. The Friends of the Cedar Rapids Public Library will also be selling books for $1 each during the party.

The Imagination Library seeks to support early literacy and kindergarten readiness, which aligns with the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s strategic initiatives of literacy, access, and inclusion. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails more than 2 million books per month globally. In the United States, one in ten children under the age of 5 receive books from the program. 

“The Foundation is excited to celebrate this milestone with families, program enrollment partners, and the Cedar Rapids community. We are grateful to be able to get books into the homes of so many of our youngest citizens and inspire a love of reading,” said Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation Development Associate Jess Netolicky. 

The Dollywood Foundation covers overhead by providing the book-ordering system database and coordinating book selection, purchasing, and shipping processes. The Library Foundation is responsible for promoting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, enrolling children alongside local partners, and covering the costs of books and postage. The average retail cost of an Imagination Library book is $13, but the Dollywood Foundation’s high-volume purchasing lowers the Library Foundation’s costs (includes books and postage) to approximately $2.20 per book, or $26 per child per year. 

To learn more about the Imagination Library or to register a child, visit