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More local writers sought for Central Library’s short story dispenser

Got a minute? Maybe five?

The Calgary Public Library (CPL), along with Calgary’s Loft 112, is once again looking for local submissions for the Central Library’s short story dispenser.

Local and international stories have been uploaded into the machine’s database and people can select stories at the post that are one, three and five-minute reads.  

Library patrons have already pulled out nearly 6,800 stories since the machine was first installed in February. Of those, 46.9 per cent were of the one-minute variety. The most popular time for people to read is on the weekends.

So far, Rosemary Griebel, design lead with the CPL, said they’ve been thrilled with the reception the story machine has been given by library users and by the support they received from local writers the first time around.  

“We had an incredible response when the call went out,” Griebel said.

After the original vetting, 47 stories from Calgary writers were chosen. Now, they want to get that number up to 100.

But what makes a good short story, fit for a quick read by the thousands of Calgarians passing through the new Central Library daily?

“It has to have some intrigue, something that brings in the reader in a way that carrier the reader through the story – even if it’s a one-minute one,” Griebel said.

“So, people need to connect with it.”

Griebel is hoping to stir the creative juices among Calgary’s writing community, but she understands that it’s not an easy task. There’s a strict character limit based on the length of time to read the story, and coming up with an interesting piece is a chore in itself.

“But also, people are so busy,” she said.

“It takes time, it takes thought and it takes creativity and imagination.”

The stories are coming in a bit slower this time around, so there’s no hard deadline on submissions. Story submissions can come from any Calgarian, and there are no age restrictions.

They’re hoping to get a better breakdown of the number of local stories vs. international ones the dispenser delivers and also an adjustment to the software is coming to spotlight the local stories.

Loft 112 is accepting the submissions and anyone interested can find the guidelines here.