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Columbus Schools Introduce Free Short Story Kiosks Around City

Need a story on the go? Columbus City Schools is installing automated short story kiosks throughout the city to promote reading. 

The kiosks function like ATMs that dispense free short stories. Users select one of two buttons: “Stories for Young Readers” or “Stories for Everyone.” Then stories are printed out on rolls of paper similar to receipts.

The stories and machines come from Short Édition, which has a database of tens of thousands of stories.

Columbus City Schools superintendent Dan Good says the city is starting off with five machines and hopes to grow that number.

“What we’ve seen is in where other places they’ve been used, mind you we’ll be the first district we’re aware of on the planet that’s actually doing this district-wide, but what we’ve seen happen is that they generate conversation between people that print out one of those short stories," Good says.

The first machine will be installed at the Central Enrollment Center in the spring. The locations for the other four machines are still to be determined.

Credit Adora Namigadde / WOSU
Five short story kiosks will be installed around the city, with two options: Stories for young readers, and stories for everyone.

Good says the goal is to place kiosks where young people may not have access to reading materials, like shopping spaces or waiting rooms. Good is also excited that if there’s a particular theme the city wants the community to rally around, the short story kiosks can help facilitate that.

“For example if there’s something coming to Columbus, for example with the NCAA women’s tournament this year, we can begin to put stories in about women athletes, NCAA sports,” Good says. “We can tailor them to whatever meets the needs of this community.”

The short story kiosks are funded through a tax abatement agreement between the city, Columbus Board of Education and the Columbus-based Pizzuti Company.  

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.