A sweet new kiosk at the MSU Main Library dispenses stories like candy from a vending machine. Located on the main floor near the south (Red Cedar) entrance, the dispenser offers a new reading option for MSU Library users and serves as a new publishing venue for students, faculty, and staff. The kiosk provides free on-demand printing of short prose and poetry, offering users a choice of one-minute, three-minute, or five-minute stories printed on paper a bit wider than a typical receipt. Dean of Libraries Joseph Salem said the kiosk opens up new opportunities for the MSU Libraries to partner with students and campus writing programs.
“The kiosk gives us a new way to encourage creativity and showcase a diverse range of voices across the MSU community,” Salem said. “This is the first installation in Michigan, and we’re delighted to introduce this new dispenser to promote storytelling and reading.”
The dispenser was purchased by the MSU Libraries from Short Edition, a publisher of short literature that offers more than 80,000 short stories for users. The program was launched in Grenoble, France in 2015. Interest in the technology grew in the United States after Francis Ford Coppola installed a dispenser in his San Francisco café. Each roll of paper is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and can print between 350-450 stories. The machine uses thermal printing. No ink or cartridges are used.
MSU Librarian Michael Rodriguez, who helped oversee the installation of the kiosk and now leads the project, said he’s witnessed how the dispenser can spark conversations about literature. “I’ve seen people trade the stories and I’ve heard people talk about the stories,” Rodriguez said. “The kiosk is a treasure trunk full of free prizes: stories and poems that people can put in their pockets or read right here. I think people appreciate the physical print-out, and I think they enjoy the innovative format. You can take these stories with you, but they won’t add any weight to your backpack. They remind me of the City Lights Pocket Poet Series – small books designed for working people to carry around so that if they found a minute or two, they could read a poem or two.”
Rodriguez and others at the Main Library are exploring partnerships with MSU Archives (now part of MSU Libraries), the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, WRAC, and Red Cedar Review (MSU’s undergraduate literary journal) to expand content for the kiosk. “This is a great opportunity for the Libraries to support undergraduate writers, other emerging writers, and established authors.” Rodriguez said. “We think it’s a great way to connect readers and writers.”
The kiosk in the Main Library at MSU Libraries is one of four purchased by the MSU Libraries and shared in the community. Other locations for the kiosks include the MSU Dairy Store, the Capital Region International Airport, and the East Lansing Public Library.
MSU community members – students, faculty, and staff – may submit work to be considered for inclusion in the kiosk at MSU Libraries. Short fiction and poems should be less than 8,000 characters (about 1,450 words). Work that is accepted will also be considered for national and international publication through Short Edition machines located throughout the world. Stories and poems may be submitted through the Library’s Short Edition site (https://msu.short-edition.com/) simply by creating an account, agreeing to terms and conditions, clicking the “submit” form, and uploading work. All work will be reviewed by a team of editors and considered for publication.