Education

Short stories go high tech at 'literary kiosk' in Iowa City

Three buttons on the Literary Kiosk allow people to pick the length of the printout they wish to receive at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. The kiosk prints free reading material in one-, three- or five-minute reading sections. The kiosk is offered by the University of Iowa Libraries and the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature. The kiosk was at the University of Iowa Main Library in November and is currently at the Iowa City Public Library through December. It will be at the Coralville Public Library in January, the North Liberty Public Library in February and the Cedar Rapids Public Library in March. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Three buttons on the Literary Kiosk allow people to pick the length of the printout they wish to receive at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. The kiosk prints free reading material in one-, three- or five-minute reading sections. The kiosk is offered by the University of Iowa Libraries and the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature. The kiosk was at the University of Iowa Main Library in November and is currently at the Iowa City Public Library through December. It will be at the Coralville Public Library in January, the North Liberty Public Library in February and the Cedar Rapids Public Library in March. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — A “literary kiosk” that has been touring the Iowa City area has printed more than 3,000 works for passers-by.

Residing in the Iowa City Public Library this month, the kiosk provides free literary works that take one, three or five minutes to read.

“It’s sort of on the down-low,” said Elyse Miller, an administrative coordinator for the Iowa City Public Library. “It’s super cool, but it’s more of something that someone discovers.”

The kiosk is scheduled in January to move to the Coralville Public Library. Then, it will have monthly residencies at the North Liberty Public Library in February and the Cedar Rapids Public Library in March.

Since its debut at the Iowa City Book Festival in October, the kiosk had printed 3,228 stories by late December, said John Keegan of University of Iowa Libraries.

UI Libraries and the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature partnered to bring the kiosk to Iowa City, with Friends of the UI Libraries covering costs.

About half of the works printed so far have been short, one-minute reads. The other works have been almost evenly split between three-minute and five-minute reads.

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“We wanted to bring at least one kiosk to town and the region to create another facet for engaging with the public, in what is internationally understood to be a literary place,” said Keegan, head of UI Libraries’ digital scholarship and publishing studio. “ ... It’s shown great promise early on, and we expect to continue to grow.”

The kiosk, which currently prints only works available in the public domain, is part of a pilot program that could include additional kiosks as well as local content this spring.

Some of those local authors could soon be area students, said John Kenyon, director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.

He plans to make students’ award-winning submissions to Iowa City’s children’s literature fair, One Book Two Book, available to the public through the kiosk. The fair is Feb. 23 to 25.

As the literary kiosks program expands, Kenyon said he hopes the community will engage with the machines.

“It’s not just something to stand and look at and think, ‘Oh, that’s neat,’” he said. “I hope people go up and push the button and have something print out and read it. Take it home, share — really engage with these.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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