Early Literacy Programs @ JCLS

Our guest speaker on Wednesday, February 7th, was Kari May, Library Director for Jackson County Library Services (JCLS). Kari has 25 years of experience working in libraries in Colorado, Utah, and Oregon. Kari is a member of the Medford Rogue Rotary and serves on the steering committee for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Jackson County. Kari was introduced by George Prokop.

Kari’s presentation delved into data conveying the importance of early literacy and highlighted three early literacy programs of JCLS; Storytimes, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

In 2019, the Literacy Project compiled a list of “30 Key Child Literacy Stats Parents Need To Be Aware Of”. Some of the highlights are listed below:

Thirteen of the fifteen library locations in JCLS participate in the Storytimes Program hosting 24 storytimes per week. In 2023 there were 1,030 Pre-K programs, including non-storytime programs, with attendance of 13, 903.

The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten encourages learning to read before reading to learn. Kids get prizes for reading 100, 500, and 1000 books.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was launched in Jackson County in 2023 by two sponsoring organizations, the Jackson County Library Foundation and the United Rotary Clubs of Southern Oregon. Children participating in the program receive one free book each month up to age 5. It is estimated that there are ~11,000 children under age five in our county and currently 3274 children are registered with another 462 who have graduated from the program.

The cost per child is $26/year – which is why we need support from Rotary and the Foundation! Fundraising covers 100% of the cost of the program for each enrolled child – participation is free for each family.

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