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Calgary’s New Central Library getting short story vending machine

Calgary’s new Central Library will be getting a vending machine that is perfectly suited to a lending library early next year.

In the spirit of libraries, patrons won’t have to put any money in this machine to get something out. What they’ll get when they press the button is a short story written by a local author.

The project is happening through a partnership between the library and Loft 112 – an artists’ collective in the East Village for Calgary writers.

Lisa Murphy-Lamb, director of Loft 112, said they’ve been asked to help curate the submissions to find the best stories for the machine. The call for writers has already gone out.

She said once selected, the stories will be uploaded to the machine, and patrons will print off a random story when they push the button.

“When you come to the dispensary you will push a button for a one-minute story, a three minute or a five-minute story.

It will be printed out on a long spool of paper, not unlike receipt paper in size, but of better quality, and eco-friendly

Murphy-Lamb explained that the writers will have to adhere to strict character limits for each of the story ‘sizes.’ Like Twitter, the character count will include spaces.

Since word got out, local writers have taken an interest in writing for the dispenser.

“We’ve had tremendous interest,” said Murphy-Lamb “I put it out via our newsletter – we’ve already had 3,000 hits on the newsletter and we’ve had a good number of submissions already and inquiries already.”

Readers can pick stories that are between one and five minutes in length. SUBMITTED

They’re hoping to start the machine with at least 30 stories, and they’re aiming to have around 100 stories when it’s done.

Rosemary Griebel, service design lead with the Calgary Public Library, said the vending machine will be coming from France.

“We’re purchasing it and we pay a monthly subscriptions fee but we own the machine,” she said.

The plan is to put it near the Luke’s Cafe outlet in the library, so patrons can read a story while having a coffee.

“We really like the idea of profiling local voices, so that’s the most important part of it – having stories written by Calgary voices,” said Griebel.

Murphy-Lamb said fans don’t need to worry about collecting all the stories themselves. They’re hoping to create an anthology of the first year’s stories to be ready at the end of the year.