Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, United Kingdom
Our Book Gifting Programme
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting programme devoted to inspiring a love of reading in the hearts of children everywhere. Each month, enrolled children from birth to age five, receive a high quality, age appropriate book in the post, free of charge. We work with local partners – our affiliates – to register children and contribute to the costs.
In December of 2007, Dolly Parton travelled to London for a special announcement about her Imagination Library. To celebrate the programme’s launch in the United Kingdom, a group of school children gathered on the steps of the Savoy Hotel to sing Dolly’s song “I Believe in You.” Since then, the Imagination Library has grown, and we now work with over 200 affiliate partners and deliver more than 40,000 books every month to children living in communities across the UK.
The books are carefully selected, and full of variety. They include traditional stories and rhymes, books by beloved authors and illustrators, non-fiction content, and newly published titles.
How It Works
Each month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails a high quality, age appropriate book to all registered children, addressed to them, at no cost to the child’s family. Countless parents have shared how excited their child is when their new book arrives each month. Many groups and individuals work hard behind the scenes to make that special moment possible for each child.
The Imagination Library provides the infrastructure of the core programme including managing the secure central database for the Book Order System and coordinating book selections and wholesale purchasing. It also incurs the cost of the programme’s administrative expenses and coordinates the monthly mailings.
The Imagination Library partners with Local Champions who help bring the programme to cities, towns and communities around the world. Local Champions can be businesses, local authorities, small or large organizations, or simply individuals who share in the mission and purpose of the Imagination Library.
Local Champions are responsible for enrolling children who live within the geographical area they offer the programme in. They promote their local programmes online and at events. While the Imagination Library negotiates wholesale pricing for the books, Local Champions are responsible for securing funds to cover that cost. Books are 100% free to enrolled children because their Local Champion has secured funds to cover the cost of the books and the postage and packing fees.
Becoming a Local Imagination Library Champion in 3 Steps:
Step 1: Figuring out ‘Do I want to do this?
I’m interested in starting a program for children in my community.
The Imagination Library isn’t currently supported in my community. What do I need to consider to get started?
You will need to identify financial support to sustainably cover the wholesale cost of the books and mailing. This is approximately £25 per child per year for 12 books.
- Working with partners:
Is there an organisation already in your community you can partner with to help? You could, for instance, get help from a local charity, children’s centre, library, nursery, church, housing association, or the local authority.
How much funding do I need?
- Decide on the community you think you would like to cover – such as post code(s), school catchment area, town, city or county.
- Get the 0-5 population from a census or population statistics website, such as the Office of National Statistics (www.ons.gov.uk). We can help with this.
- Enter the 0-5 population into the Cost Estimator on our website.
Common financial supporters:
- Clubs such as Rotary, Lions, etc.
- Local trusts and foundations
- Local businesses
- Chambers of Commerce
- Individual donors
Step 2: Putting the pieces in place.
1. Contact the DWF Regional Director that covers your area
Contact your local Regional Director:
- Let them know you are interested in bringing the Imagination Library to your community
- Ask any questions
- Get our Memorandum of Agreement and Affiliate Information Sheet – the two documents that we’ll put in place to outline our relationship and capture key information. Watch a helpful video on completing these documents.
2. Begin building a support team.
Key roles you should consider:
- Chairperson – a person to coordinate the effort
- Fundraising – to identify and secure local sustainable funds
- Enrollment – plan where and how to enrol children, oversee registration brochure distribution (if using) and marketing campaigns
- Database – entering new registrations, accepting pending online registrations, updating addresses, utilising reports in the Book Order System (BOS)
- Community Outreach – collaborate with other local organisations and coalitions. Also may collect undeliverable books from local post office
- Family Engagement – plans efforts to encourage parents to better engage their children through DPIL books and read more often
- *TIP – Also consider engaging other community partners to build coalitions and collective impact strategies. Ask your Regional Director for help with ideas.
3. Get Fundraising effort underway.
- Engage your support team for contacts
- Consider putting together an advisory council to assist
- Identify potential funding partners and begin meeting with them
- *TIP – At this point you should have a good plan outlined: an idea of the funds you will need, community details/facts and partners who are willing to help – this will all help make your ask more clear and direct.
4. Complete and Submit Partnership Docs
- Return completed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and Affiliate Information Sheet (AIS) to your Regional Director
Step 3: Make final preparations and launch!
Receive your Book Order System login information and operations manual.
You may now enter registrations into the BOS. Email us to switch to Operating status when you are ready to begin accepting registrations and start mailing books!
Think about planning a launch event to build awareness and excitement
Utilise available resources:
- Promotional materials
- Regional Directors
- Imagination Library network