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KUSM-W > Newsroom > A strip of stories – another way to promote reading in the community

A strip of stories – another way to promote reading in the community

August 30, 2018

By Belinda Venters

Gretchen Homan, M.D., left, and Debra Birdwell, nurse manager, both from KU Wichita Pediatrics, test out the Wichita Public Library’s new Short Story Dispenser installed at the KU Wichita General Pediatrics Clinic.

The staff at the KU Wichita General Pediatrics Clinic do more than treat children who are ill or need health care services at their location at 620 N. Carriage Parkway. They promote reading to their patients, their siblings and even those who bring them.

The newest way they are putting stories in little and big hands is through the Short Story Dispenser provided by the Wichita Public Library. On Wednesday, Aug. 22, the clinic received one of three dispensers in Wichita.

The dispenser, which prints out short stories for free in a long, receipt-like size, has two options of stories: one for children aged 8 and up and one for older teens and adults. Select the age and push a button, and within a few seconds a story is emerging from a slot.

When the Wichita Public Library staff learned about the dispensers, they applied for and received a grant from the Knight Foundation, which has been awarding grants to libraries for more than 50 years. Each machine costs about $11,000, which includes the physical dispenser, paper and maintaining the 3G service technology. The Wichita Public Library received three dispensers. The one at the clinic will be there for two years. The other two locations in Wichita are the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center and the downtown Reverie Coffee Roasters.

Wichita is one of four library locations that received dispensers. Other libraries are in Akron, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Columbia, South Carolina.

Short Edition, a publishing company in France, launched the first short story dispensers in 2015. Therefore, the one that was shown to the Wichita Public Library staff printed stories in French. Hundreds of dispensers are available worldwide.

According to Anne Harris, youth services outreach librarian at the Wichita Public Library, there is an online catalogue in which they can select different themes for the different dispensers.

When asked why they were interested in the dispensers, she said, "Anytime we can get reading out into the community, that's what I'm all about."

In late September there will be a national contest to submit short stories for the dispensers.

"It would make our dispensers even more special," said Harris, "if the stories were written by a Wichitan or someone in our local area."

Promoting reading is of importance to the clinic staff, as well.

"The Short Story Dispenser serves our population, keeps kids occupied and the stories are recyclable," said Jenni Beilman, practice manager, Wesley Pediatrics, Women's Care and Orthopedics. "It is only one way we encourage reading at our clinic."

The clinic has promoted reading for many years.

Children, ages 6 months to 5 years, who come in for their well-child appointments, receive a new book from the Turn a Page, Touch a Mind Book Program. They also receive a voucher to take to any Wichita Public Library location where they will receive another free new book to take home. This is made possible by a local program called Check-up and Check Out.

KU School of Medicine-Wichita participates in the Turn a Page, Touch a Mind Book Program by collecting new and gently used books for the clinic. Those books are given out to children aged 5 and older who have appointments and/or to their siblings.

In the future, clinic personnel would like to be able to offer stories that would be of interest to children 6 months to 5 years and possibly offer stories in Spanish.

But for now, Beilman said, she is thrilled to give this opportunity to the clinic community.

KU School of Medicine-Wichita
Last modified: Aug 30, 2018
Media Inquiries:

Belinda Venters

KU School of Medicine–Wichita
Public Affairs
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214

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