Library’s story machine dispenses stories, togetherness

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A glowing sign greets patrons entering the Delta Township District Library, inviting them to “press, read, enjoy!” The sign is mounted on a short-story dispenser. Acquired just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the library to shut its doors for several months, the dispenser is finally getting some action.

Jack Moreland

The short story I received from the dispenser titled “The Treatment” by Jonathan Stars.

Since tFebruary, the library has been taking advantage of the dispenser to host a short story contest. Interested readers can press one of two buttons on the machine to receive either a story for “young readers” or a story for “everyone.” The “everyone” button dispenses one of several contest submissions from the library’s website.

Becca Hruscik is the head of adult services for the library and helped set up the contest. She says it has been a fun way to interact with readers and writers in the community.

“People love to push the button and get the stories out,” Hruscik said. “We hear that all day long. Also, our patrons totally appreciated being able to give that content themselves and show off how talented the writers are that we have … around here.”

Librarian Anne Milliman said the dispenser has been very popular among families with kids. Her colleague Julie Bills agreed that many young library-goers and their parents were making good use of the dispenser.

“The kids really enjoy it … it’s a button to push, and they love buttons to push,” Bills said. “It seems to be a way that the kids and family are reading together.”

The contest is now coming to a close. Reader voting through the website is finished and a panel of volunteers from the library and the Lansing Community College Creative Writing Society is deciding on the final winners. The writers of the top three stories will each receive Barnes & Noble. gift cards. Awards will be announced April 2.

Hruscik said the contest has been a success and looks forward to hosting it again. This year’s contest required entries to be submitted electronically and Hruscik said she hopes to expand the field for writers who tried to bring in physical copies of their stories.

“I’m always looking for feedback on how can we get more people involved and make this as easy as possible,” Hruscik said. “I think it’ll just continue to grow as long as folks are interested.”
Even after the contest has ended, readers can still view all the entries here:

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