Happy Birthday, Dolly! 

Mary Pom ClaiborneOur Town Readers

You know we love Dolly around here. Well really, everywhere. I’m not sure of a person on this globe who isn’t in awe of the extraordinary gifts and talents of our homegrown hero.

At the library, we’ve been celebrating her for at least 20 years thanks to her incredible book-gifting program. We launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on January 15, 2005, with the help of Gov. Phil Bredeson and Mayors Bill Haslam and Mike Ragsdale. The auditorium was jam packed with kids, VIPS and sponsors.

Within weeks, we had 1,500 kids signed up to receive a free book in the mail every month. This month, nearly 19,000 books will hit mailboxes in Knox County alone. That’s a lot of children learning how to recognize letters, shapes and colors. Let alone all the vocabulary words, fun stories and great characters they will meet along the way. It’s an incredible program that sets kids up for success in school and beyond.

This Friday, our favorite book lady will celebrate her 78th birthday! Of course, we’re throwing a party – actually five parties! We’re doing all the fun things: pulling out our party hats, making crafts, dancing to her music, listening to an Imagination Library book for storytime, and writing personal birthday messages that we will deliver to her. We have good intel that she actually reads them. Plus, kiddos will get a cupcake, thanks to a donation from Food City. Join us!

Here’s the schedule (weather permitting): 

If you can’t make it, but want to celebrate Dolly on your own, print out and color your own Happy Birthday Dolly hat! or coloring sheet.

And if you want to learn more about Dolly and the Library she built, UT’s Land Grant Films made a great feature-length documentary of her journey.

We think January 19 should be a national holiday. Enjoy!

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library


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