In a creative effort to bring the benefits of the Imagination Library to unreached areas of Bradley County, the organization has installed a bookshelf stocked with free books in The Laundry Basket laundromat off of Georgetown Road.
The local Imagination Library, a division of the United Way of Bradley County, provides free books for the county's children from birth to the age of 5 regardless of economic status.
The Georgetown Road region is too far from the Cleveland/Bradley County Public Library for some families to take their children frequently, so Imagination Library officials have brought a book exchange program to them.
According to AmeriCorps VISTA Sarah Haratine, who developed the project, the organization was able to provide "an example of good reading material" to a region of the county that may not know about the Imagination Library.
“Less than half of the community's eligible newborns to 5-year-olds currently receive free monthly books, so we are trying to raise that number dramatically by introducing new innovative tactics,” Haratine acknowledged.
Undelivered Imagination Library books line the laundromat's bookshelf, which was donated by the local Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.
A sign at the bookshelf states, “Take a book and bring a book back.”
The shelf affords members of the community that frequent The Laundry Basket an opportunity to recycle books and sustain the small library on their own.
Haratine mentioned that American history books and Bible story books have already replaced some of the Imagination Library selections, demonstrating that the shelf has been used and is proving to be an asset to the community.
The Imagination Library is a successful international program that promotes early childhood learning and development by supplying free books to children from birth to the age of five.
The original vision of country music icon Dolly Parton expanded in the state of Tennessee under the tutelage of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. The United Way of Bradley County locally oversees the project to encourage literacy in the Cleveland area. Ultimately, the goal is to get 80 percent of all children from birth to age 5 registered for the program.