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‘The Library That Dolly Built’ Premieres Online

Dollywood and Abramorama in association with The Dollywood Foundation partnered to present a free one-night-only live streaming world premiere event for The Library That Dolly Built, the Land Grant Films documentary about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Originally scheduled as a nationwide live event on more than 300 screens this spring, the world premiere for The Library That Dolly Built was reimagined as a free live stream screening of the film on Dec. 9 The screening was followed by an acoustic performance by Dolly Parton. 

Parton created the Imagination Library to inspire a love for books and reading amongst the nation’s preschool children. Since its inception in 1995, the Imagination Library has grown into a global endeavor and recently hit a new milestone, gifting its 150 millionth book. The Imagination Library is currently gifting books to 1.7 million children around the world each month. This spring, Dolly participated in a weekly bedtime reading series, “Goodnight With Dolly,” presented across Facebook and YouTube which garnered more than 15 million views.

On Dec. 11, the film and the conversation with Dolly Parton was released nationwide as a Watch Now @ HomeCinema Release and will follow in early 2021 across multiple digital platforms.

“I am so excited that we can finally tell the whole story of the Imagination Library,” Dolly Parton said. “It is certainly not just about me. Our story is the story of children, of families and communities who all share the dream to inspire kids to love to read and to love to learn. My hope is this documentary will encourage more towns, more states and even more countries to jump onboard. One thing is for sure, I think this is the best investment I have ever made!”

“Dolly Parton is an amazing human, extremely generous in her time and resources, and the world is in a much better place because of her,” Evan Saxon, Head of Music at Abramorama, said. “Everybody at Abramorama is honored to be part of the team to bring this heart-warming documentary about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to fans around the world.”

The Library That Dolly Built, directed and produced by Journalism and Electronic Media associate professor Nick Geidner and narrated by Danica McKellar, goes behind the scenes of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to show how one of the most famous and beloved performers in the world has partnered with thousands of local community organizations to develop an efficient and effective program for spreading the love of reading.

Geidner and Land Grant Films, the student documentary film group in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, have been working on the film for more than two years. Fifteen current and former students were part of the crew, many of whom are now working professionally in television, filmmaking, journalism, and communications. JEM video production specialist Clinton Elmore served as the film’s editor.

Imagination Library started as a gift for the children in Dolly’s hometown, Sevierville, Tennessee, and is now active in all 50 states and five countries, gifting 1.7 million free, age-appropriate books to children every month. The film also provides a glimpse of the profound impact the Imagination Library has on people through original interviews with authors, policymakers, Imagination Library staff, recipients, and the legend herself, Dolly Parton. Woven throughout the film is a biographical sketch of Dolly Parton, featuring rare photos and films from her childhood. Unlike most biographies of Dolly, it doesn’t focus on her music. Instead, it demonstrates that at every point in her career, any time she has had success, Dolly Parton has come back to Sevierville to give back to her people.

More About the Documentary

Read more about the students and production behind The Library That Dolly Built with these feature stories from the last two years:

The Magic of ‘The Library That Dolly Built’

Documenting Life

100 Million Stories