Dolly Parton is an American icon. As such, she is regularly interviewed by national and international media. The bulk of these interviews focus on topical issues, such as her music, image, or brief inquiries about whatever project she is currently working on. At the end of most interviews, Ms. Parton is asked about her foundation – The Dollywood Foundation – and the work it does related to children’s literacy. Our film, The Library That Dolly Built, will turn this throw-away question into a feature-length documentary discussing the history, impact and future of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Unbeknownst to most, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is one of the largest, non-governmental children’s literacy programs in the world. Its objective is simple: to provide free, age-appropriate books to children from birth to age 5. Since its launch in 1996, the Imagination Library has grown from a program operating in a single county in Tennessee to operating in all 50 states and 4 countries. In February of 2018, the Imagination Library delivered its 100 millionth free book. Our film will use this event as a backdrop to introduce the viewer to the Imagination Library, demonstrate its unprecedented scale and scope, and discuss the important effects the program has on the children and families that receive books from the “Book Lady.” The film will feature interviews with recipients of the books, parents, policy makers, authors, program organizers, and the legend herself, Dolly Parton.
Land Grant Films is proud to announce that author, actress Danica McKeller will serve as the narrator of The Library That Dolly Built, the first feature length documentary about Dolly Parton’s book gifting program, The Imagination Library.
“We are honored to have Ms. McKellar work with us on this important project,” said Prof. Nick Geidner, director of Land Grant Films and director/producer of The Library That Dolly Built. “She was a pleasure to work with and incredibly generous with her time and talent.”
McKellar is an actress, mathematics writer and education advocate. Her successful acting career includes her role as Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years,” several notable voiceovers for animated movies and a number of well-received movies on the Hallmark Channel.
In addition to her acting work, McKellar has written eight books, all encouraging children, especially young girls, to have confidence and success in mathematics. Her book, Goodnight, Numbers, is currently included in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The Library That Dolly Built is being produced by Land Grant Films, a documentary production program housed in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee. Land Grant Film’s mission is to provide University of Tennessee students with real-world experience in documentary storytelling while providing local non-profit organizations with videos assets that can be used to raise awareness and funds. Land Grant Films’ documentaries have been aired on Knoxville’s NBC and PBS affiliates, screened in film festivals, and won numerous awards. All of our films are created by University of Tennessee students or involve students in key crew positions.
Shortly after the launch of the production on the film, The Library That Dolly Built director Nick Geidner and director of photography Brock Zych were joined by David Dotson, president of the Dollywood Foundation, to talk about the film on Knoxville’s NBC affiliate, WBIR.
The School of Journalism and Electronic Media at UT is a proud supporter of Land Grant Films and The Library That Dolly Built.
The mission of GBBF is to promote early childhood literacy in Tennessee's birth to age five population. In partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, GBBF gives all preschoolers in Tennessee the opportunity to receive books in the mail at no cost to families.
Based in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the Dollywood Foundation oversees all of Dolly Parton's philanthropic endeavors, including Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.