A Publication of WTVP

Short Story Vending

The Short Story Cube helps teach elusive and intangible skills by delivering short fiction on eco-friendly paper.

by Peoria Magazine |
The short story vending machine

A child’s first introduction to the world of literature is through short stories, whether told to them by a caretaker or read to them from one of the millions of children’s picture books that have been published. As these young readers grow to become adults, short stories continue to be appealing.

Illinois Prairie District Public Library (IPDPL), located in Woodford County, has acquired a new short story vending machine, the first of its design in the country. Since the original Short Story Dispenser launched in 2016, more than 300 have been deployed around the world, including 110 in the United States. Last year brought the introduction of the Short Story Cube, a smaller, more portable version of the original kiosk.

With a catalog of more than 120,000 titles, the Short Story Cube prints stories on eco-friendly paper that can be read in one to five minutes. Stories are chosen at random, but can be themed to various holidays, seasons, topics or genres. The dispenser has a touchless design, so users simply wave a hand in front of the story option of their choice to set the printer in motion.

The Short Story Cube was unveiled at IPDPL – Germantown Hills last month, and it appears to have been a success. “This is so cool! Whoever thought of it is a genius!” was the response from one visitor. Another patron was so pleased with the story they received, they insisted that members of the library staff read the story themselves before they took it home.

This month the Cube will dispense poems for National Poetry Month, and stories from the Cube will be part of the library’s annual summer reading program. The touchless dispenser will be transferred to a different branch in the IPDPL system every few weeks. Anyone interested in trying out the Short Story Cube can call IPDPL for a location schedule at (309) 921-5074. PM