The Evening Leader
County will again fund the Imagination Library
The county’s Imagination Library program is experiencing monthly growth when the Auglaize County commissioners agreed to provide funding for the next three years.
The commissioners will contribute $10,000 each year for 2023, 2024 and 2025 to help children ages birth to 5 receive a new book each month.
The program is administered through the United Way of Auglaize County; director Natasha Kaufman said $1,545 a month in book cost is matched by the state.
“That number varies; the more kids we sign up, the cost goes up,” Kaufman said, giving credit to the county commissioners as well as local community foundations for their support.
If all 3,086 children under the age of five in Auglaize County enrolled, an estimated $38,000 in annual local funding would be needed, with the anticipation they would receive matching dollars from the state.
At the moment 1,540 children are signed up in Auglaize County, representing about 48 percent of those who are eligible.
“When you are looking at Ohio, we would be in the upper percentages,” Kaufman said. “There are still coun
ties that are struggling, there are still counties that are not as well funded, as well supported as we are.”
She said word about the program has spread through the Auglaize County library system and the St. Marys Community Public Library.
Kaufman said in speaking with local library directors most of the time when they mention the library kids are already signed up.
“I think we have a great word of mouth system as well,” Kaufman said.
Often information about the program is sent home with parents from the hospital when children are born, which has helped increase participation.
The reason the Imagination Library was started was due in part to Dolly Parton’s father’s inability to read or write.
“She never wanted any other kid to enter kindergarten not have held a book in their hands,” Kaufman said.
“We know that not only is it helping them get in the habit of holding a book and turning the pages and reading the story, it helps bond families together.”
It also helps prepare children for school.
“It really mentally prepares them to enter kindergarten,” Kaufman said. “The minute that they know what mail is, as a toddler, they know that their book is going to come at the first of the month every month.”