National Writing Contest Launches to Engage Communities with Literature | Compendium

Public Library Association seeks stories on courage, offering winners up to $1,000 and the opportunity to be published in Short Story Dispensers worldwide

(CHICAGO) – Sept. 25, 2018 – America’s libraries are home to countless volumes and voices of diverse writers. They also are trusted public spaces for people to connect, receive community information and grow as readers and writers. The Public Library Association (PLA) today announced a new national writing contest that aims to build on the rich legacy of these vital community institutions.

The contest invites writers of all backgrounds to submit short stories on the theme of courage. Winners can receive up to $1,000 and have the opportunity to be published in Short Story Dispensers—ATM-like kiosks that print short stories in a range of genres—around the world. The contest is hosted in collaboration with Short Édition, the creator of Short Story Dispensers, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Librarians know that literacy and reading are foundational for full civic participation. This partnership bolsters creative community expression and engagement—inspiring those who write to read more, and those who read to write better,” said PLA President Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne, PhD. “Our hope for this contest is to further connect our communities with literature, local libraries and each other.”

The contest is part of the Fostering Creative Community Connections project, an ongoing effort to promote reading and literary joy; community engagement; library programs and services; and creative expression from diverse writers. As part of the initiative, four public libraries in communities where Knight Foundation invests have deployed Short Story Dispensers in public spaces—including at airports, hospitals and museums—to connect more people, wherever they may be, with more stories wherever they are.

“Fiction often gives a voice to people who aren’t given the chance to tell their own story,” said Christophe Sibieude, co-founder of Short Édition. “It can serve as a space for writers to express themselves freely, to dive into worlds that perhaps are often ignored or to which people turn a blind eye, or to open up space for needed conversation about reality by reflecting it in a fictional world. To write—and to be read by others—is to have courage.”

Knight Foundation is funding the contest as part of its mission to foster informed and engaged communities, which it believes are essential for a healthy democracy.

“Public libraries are a cornerstone of community—connecting people with local stories, history and each other. In the digital age, it’s critical for libraries to explore innovative ways to engage the public, so they can continue in this role,” said Lilian Coral, Knight Foundation director for national strategy and technology innovation.

Applicants can submit stories of fiction online at today through Oct. 30 at 11:59 p.m. CST. Readers can like and comment on submissions on the Short Édition website, where popular stories will be featured.

A jury of qualified editors, librarians and authors will review and select winning entries to receive cash prizes and the opportunity to be published in the Short Story Dispensers. No purchase is necessary to participate. The contest is open to U.S. residents only. A complete list of contest guidelines can be found at


About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

About Short Édition
The French publishing house, Short Édition, was created in 2011. Since then, it has fostered a robust community of international authors, generated more than 25 million readings and has more than 250,000 subscribers on its collaborative platform. Short Édition’s aim is to adapt literature to the modern world by combining short fiction, community and technology. Their Short Story Dispensers, created in 2016, are elevating the role of story in everyday lives.