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Using a Short Story Dispenser for Citation Workshops

February 8, 2019

Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library received a fun new toy this semester. A few weeks ago, a large box arrived at the library with a Short Story Dispenser. For those who are unfamiliar with Short Story Dispensers, it’s a product by Short Édition created “for the public to enjoy a serendipitous literary experience, free of charge.”

short story dispenser

The machine sits right inside the entry to Brandywine’s library, and generated a lot of interest since its arrival. There are no specific instructions, just buttons to press. A would-be reader picks a button for a 1-minute, 3-minute, or 5-minute read, and out comes a long receipt paper with a title, author, and a quick read on it.

The dispensers are at Brandywine because of the urging of one of our faculty members, who is using student work as submissions for the machine. We at Vairo Library are happy to host it, and have been using it as a tool for citation workshops while we have it. Students in a history class, working in pairs, grabbed a popular magazine and a story story from the dispenser, then worked together to create both a notation and a bibliographic entry in Chicago style. Because the stories in the dispenser are all types of content we were also able to discuss the differences in primary and secondary sources using the dispenser. For anyone who teaches Information Literacy sessions, these are not new lessons, but using the Short Story Dispenser to generate content was a fun way to engage students with these topics in a new way.

Though the dispenser has been useful in class and is namely here for pedagogical support, my favorite part is the students who print a story, read it, and come over to tell me whether they liked it better than the last one they read. That kind of reading engagement is always welcome!

 

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