Short story dispenser offering bite-sized literature

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Published: 09 Aug 2019

Timaru District Libraries is debuting a short-story dispenser with the aim of bringing a little bit of literature to unexpected places.

The dispenser, which is currently at the Timaru Library, is the first of its kind and the only one in New Zealand. It offers a random, printed short story for free at the push of a button.

Timaru District Libraries Manager Adele Hewlett said that the short-story dispenser is a creative vending machine that prints short stories to read while people wait for free.

“The dispenser is a simple amenity which can offer bite-sized literature in unexpected places where people generally wouldn’t reach for a book,” said.

“More than 80,000 stories are available at the moment, mainly covering adult fiction genre such as crime, romance and suspense. It may have the capability to add local content in the future.

“We currently have one dispenser at the Timaru Library. The unit is portable and only requires plugging in, so we will be able to move it to different sites, such as the airport, around our communities.

“We hope this can be a good way to bring or bring back people to reading. This is especially important in the digital age when a large part of our day is spent online surfing, chatting and watching videos.

“Our goal is to provide stories to the modern on-the-go world and put a story where the people are. This is a way for the library to support and encourage literacy in a new way.”

To use this dispenser, people can choose the desired reading time: one minute, three minutes, or five minutes, and the machine will then dispense a randomly-selected short story on the eco-friendly and biodegradable paper.

The new short story dispenser is the latest innovation from Timaru District Libraries, which has already brought the Kanopy movie streaming service to New Zealand and expanded its ebook and downloadable audio books service direct to members.

Anyone living in the district can join the library and access all its services at

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021