14 May, 2023
Imagination Library continues to be a hit
Gilgandra’s participation in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) is set to continue with the council agreeing that the benefits of the program warrant continual funding.
Gilgandra’s participation in the Dolly Parton
Imagination Library (DPIL) is set to continue with the
council agreeing that the benefits of the program warrant
continual funding. This decision may come as a
boost for those parents who currently have their children
enrolled in the program.
Recent research data shows that early exposure to literacy
for young children, especially before starting
school, is essential for the development of reading and
writing capabilities. The argument put forward by council
when deliberating over the merits of the program was
that the program “encourages families to read to their
babies from birth, building the bonding, brain development
and language skills they need”.
The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library early literacy
project champions this idea through its program.
The objective of the program is to deliver the gift of
a book each month to children between ages one to fiveyears-
old who are enrolled in the program. For example,
if a child is enrolled from when they are born to when
they turn five, they will have received a book a month,
12 books a year, 60 books over five years.
Each book is a gift for the child to own in an effort for each child to possess their own small library. Established in 1995 in Tennessee (where Dolly Parton was born) the Dolly Parton Imagination Library quickly spread across the United States until it was launched in Canada in 2006, followed by the United Kingdom in 2007, Australia in 2013 and the Republic of Ireland in 2019. The program started in Gilgandra in 2021 when it was selected as one of 25 NSW local governmente areas (LGAs) to be funded by the state government.
LGAs that are participating in the program include:
Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Central
Darling, Coonamble, Cowra, Narromine, Tamworth and
According to the meeting brief provided to the council,
“the selection was based on combined socio-economic
and childhood development data including the
Australian Early Developmental Census and the
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Socio-Economic
Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) Index”.
SEIFA is a product
developed by the ABS that “ranks areas in Australia
according to relative socio-economic advantage or disadvantage.
The indexes are based on the information
from the five-yearly census of population and housing.”
Gilgandra rated as the 15th most disadvantaged of
the 128 LGAs in NSW on these combined indexes. The
government funds and facilitates various programs of
this kind, especially for areas that are ranked as socioeconomically
disadvantaged through libraries, schools,
and even sometimes directly to households.
After initiating the program in 2021 the Gilgandra
council made it eligible for children residing in the shire
from January 1, 2022. As of April 12, 2023, 61 babies
are currently enrolled. Under the funding scheme the
state government created to cover the cost of the Imagination
Library in 2021, enrolled children will receive
the book a month up to June 30, 2024. Provided that a
child has been enrolled for the entire two years, they
should have 24 books by the end of the program.
As the number of enrolments (61) in Gilgandra is
seen as a positive and productive uptake of the program,
the council has made the decision to continue funding
the program beyond the June 2024 date.
This will allow continued use for the initiative by
parents and children already enrolled, while giving the
opportunity for new enrolments to gain a considerable
material benefit were they to enrol close to that initial
June 2024 end date.
Enrolment in the program is relatively simple.
council have outlined the process with the following
statement: “at the first baby health check, the local community
and family health nurse provides the option for
parents to register, [the nurse will] provide the form and
presents the baby with their first book. From approximately
two months following this appointment, they
receive the gift of a book each month in the mail.
The library is the local contact point for enquires and its role is to input the registration information into the Dolly Parton Imagination Library book ordering system, and to approve the registrations that parents complete themselves, online.” Since April 2021 the project has been delivered through a partnership between United Way Australia (who administer the project with DPIL), Gilgandra Shire Library and Western NSW Local Health District.