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Calgary, AB – The Calgary Public Library Foundation is launching an ambitious new fundraising campaign to bring the joy and pride of book ownership to children across Calgary. My First Bookshelf, a one-year pilot program at Calgary Public Library in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, will provide one age-appropriate, high-quality book every month to children from birth to age five — for free. The pilot is made possible thanks to The Dollywood Foundation of Canada, Canada Life, Rotary Club of Calgary East, Rotary Partners of Calgary at Stampede Park, and donors of the Calgary Public Library Foundation.

“My First Bookshelf is an exciting way for the Library to extend its mission of providing accessible early learning support to children in Calgary,” says Heather Robertson, Director of Service Design for Calgary Public Library. “While children can access a world of information through the Library, having books of their own at home is a powerful way to inspire a lifelong love of reading.”

The Calgary Public Library is piloting the program in select communities identified by postal code. The goal is to register 1,000 children for the Calgary program in the first year.

Jeanne Smitiuch, Regional Director for The Dollywood Foundation of Canada remarked, “We are delighted this partnership will join 290 other communities across Canada inspiring a lifelong love of books to more than 26,000 children each month.”

The Library will review the pilot throughout the year and hopes that additional funding will help to expand My First Bookshelf to more communities in Calgary and surrounding areas. The Calgary Public Library Foundation has a goal of expanding the program to bring a love of reading into the homes of children across Calgary. There are nearly 90,000 children under the age of five in Calgary.

“Research shows that having even 20 books at home fosters a love of learning and sets children up for success when they start school,” says Tracy Johnson, CEO of the Calgary Public Library Foundation. “COVID-19 has illustrated how critically important this is, and how children are affected when schools and libraries are temporarily closed. We know this program will resonate with Calgarians and we want to invite them to help support this life-changing program for as little as $5.50 a month.”

To donate or for more information, visit libraryfoundation.ca/myfirstbookshelf.

Calgary Public Library Foundation

The Calgary Public Library Foundation empowers people to make a difference in their community. All donations received through the Library Foundation cultivate innovation and bring the Library to those who need it most. Our 21,500 donors are helping to build a stronger Calgary.

Calgary Public Library

Calgary Public Library, with 740,000 members and 21 locations, has been inspiring the life stories of Calgarians for more than 100 years. Last year, Calgarians borrowed more than 15 million physical and digital items and visited the Library seven million times.

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted well over 140 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.7 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House Canada is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library all across Canada. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com.

Media Contact:

Rachael Terner
Communications Manager
Calgary Public Library Foundation
403.680.0626
rachael@libraryfoundation.ca

Mary Kapusta
Director, Communications
Calgary Public Library
403.774.7256
mary.kapusta@calgarylibrary.ca

Jeanne Smitiuch
Regional Director, Canada
The Dollywood Foundation of Canada
jsmitiuch@imaginationlibrary.ca

Tracy Long
Director of Marketing & Development
The Dollywood Foundation
tlong@dollyfoundation.com

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