Posted by: | October 24, 2019

Emerging Technology Planning: Storytime for Grownups


Since the dawn of time, humans have been engaged in various forms of storytelling. Whether stories have been communicated through images on cave walls, oral traditions, or the written word, people have always loved a good narrative. Which is why  I fell in love with Tea Tree Gully’s “Library Up Late: Grown up Story Time.” I was both captivated and inspired by the notion of a storytime just for adults. Afterall, stories teach us, they heal us, they entertain us, and they transport us by capturing our imaginations. A recent Pew research study (2019) found that one-in-five Americans listen to audiobooks, indicating that there is a growing appetite for hearing stories read aloud. Besides, why should kids have all the fun?

My idea for an emerging technology or service is to create an adult storytime program at the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). Unlike other library events that are held strictly at the various library branches, I would like to ask the library to come out to the community instead by sending a librarian to do a monthly reading at the Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood. I think that this branch of LAPL would be a good candidate for sponsoring these events because North Hollywood, or NoHo as it is known locally, is home to many theaters and art galleries, as well as lots of trendy cafes and shops. I believe that the NoHo community would be open to the idea of an adult storytime making this a good place to run a pilot program and test the waters. If the pilot goes well, other branches may wish to have a storytime program for adults as well. Storytimes would be monthly from 7:00-8:00 pm on a day that was mutually agreed upon by the Iliad and the North Hollywood branch of LAPL.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  • Identify individuals and/or groups that are not served by current library programming.
  • Potentially reach new users by bringing the library to businesses they already frequent while simultaneously supporting those local establishments.
  • Identify partner organizations within the community that have similar goals and objectives.
  • Develop and maintain effective relationships with community members.
  • Expose people to new authors and the library’s collections.

Description of Community you wish to engage:

The age group I envision for this program is adults 18 and over, but the program could include teens. By hosting these events at a local bookstore, the library may be able to reach potential new users, as well as current patrons. If successful, the library could consider other methods of outreach for adult storytimes such as seniors in assisted living.

Action Brief Statement:

Convince staff, administrators, and stakeholders that by having a grownup storytime they will entice users and non-users to discover the library as a place to socialize and have fun as well as partner with local businesses to host these events which will attract new users and build community.

Convince the Iliad bookshop that by hosting a grownup storytime at their establishment they will be providing a community service which will attract new and returning customers to their business because they are enriching the community.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

  1. Cruz, R. (2015, November 3). Storytime: It’s not just for kids!
  2. Duff, D. (2015, October 28). Storytime (for adults).
  3. Einbinder, N. (2016, March 3). Seattle library offers suspenseful story time just for grown-ups.
  4. Johnson County Library (2019). Adult storytime ideas.
  5. Wright, D. (2017, March 14). Librarians of the 21st century: Worst storytime ever? (Or best?).

Examples at other libraries:

La Crosse Public Library
Seattle Public Library
Torrance Public Library
Whitman County Library 

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

An adult storytime program would support the goals and mission of LAPL as described in their strategic plan for 2015-2020. Of the six stated goals, the fifth goal is to “stimulate the imagination” (p. 16). Regardless of the age of the listener, hearing stories read aloud is wonderful for stirring the imagination.

LAPL’s sixth goal addresses strengthening community (p.18). While goal number six discusses how the library’s free meeting spaces are used for numerous local events, the storytime that I am proposing is asking the library to go out into the community. Storytime for adults would represent a new opportunity to strengthen community by meeting constituents where they are. Also, City Librarian, John Szabo (n.d.) specifically calls out partnering with community organizations and businesses as a way of providing greater access to the library and serving the community. Having a storytime for grownups event at a local business would directly support this goal.

Lastly, any program would need to adhere to the internal guidelines and policies set forth by LAPL. For a new program such as the grownup storytime, new guidelines may need to be written. One approach to creating those guidelines would be to interview librarians that have led similar storytimes and asking what guidelines they use for their program. An interview would also provide an opportunity to gather useful information about next steps and discover lessons learned from their experiences.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:

This would be a free event held at the Iliad, a local used bookstore in North Hollywood, during the store’s normal business hours. Stories would be read by LAPL librarians during their regularly scheduled shift. Since some of the advertising needs would include paper flyers, there may be a small cost for colored paper or colored ink, but this might be absorbed under normal operating expenses. It would also be nice to have some refreshments on hand like coffee, tea, and water. I think these could be paid for by Friends of the Library donations.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

 To gauge community interest, I would submit a proposal to library administrators for a short pilot as proof of concept. The pilot would flow over six months with two months for planning and initial advertising followed by four-one-hour monthly events. If approved, a planning team would need to be organized with membership from across the library. The planning team would be responsible for generating ideas for which short stories to read and appointing at least one librarian or volunteer to present them. The team would also interview three to five librarians who have successfully led a similar program to discover what has worked well, what has worked less well, marketing strategies they used, and important lessons learned.

Timeline and action steps:

If the program is approved but the bookshop does not wish to participate, plan B is to hold the event in the community room at the North Hollywood branch of LAPL.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

Staffing for the monthly event would include one or possibly two librarians to perform the reading. Events would be scheduled during the librarian’s normal work time. Managers would need to include the travel time to get to and from the bookstore as part of work time. This might mean that other staff would have to cover additional areas while the librarian is away from the library or that schedules would need to be reworked for that one day each month to ensure that the library has the coverage it needs.

Training for this Technology or Service:  

The only proposed training would be to practice, practice, practice reading aloud. If the program were to be adopted, the library administrators could consider sending interested librarians to voice training. Another option could be to reach out to theater majors at Cal State Northridge or UCLA, or local theater groups, for theatrical volunteers.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

Storytime for Grownups would be advertised using in-house flyers at both the library and the bookstore. Both organizations would advertise the events on their website and on social media. The storytimes would be marketed as entertainment and an opportunity to socialize and have fun.


The program will be measured by asking participants to fill out a brief anonymous feedback form after each reading, collecting anecdotal evidence such as verbal feedback and comments, and by counting the number of participants that attend the events.


Casey, M. & Stephens, M. (2005, April 15). Measuring progress [Blog post].  Retrieved from

Cruz, R. (2015, November 3). Storytime: It’s not just for kids! Retrieved from

Duff, D. (2015, October 28). Storytime (for adults). City Arts. Retrieved from

Einbinder, N. (2016, March 3). Seattle library offers suspenseful story time just for grown-ups. The Seattle Times. Retrieved from

Johnson County Library. (2019). General recommendations: Adult storytime ideas. Retrieved from

Los Angeles Public Library. (2015). Los Angeles Public Library strategic plan 2015-2020: Creating opportunity, building community, inspiring innovation [PDF]. Retrieved from

Perrin, A. (2019, September 25). One-in-five Americans now listen to audiobooks. In Fact Tank News in the Numbers. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Ricklibrarian. (2010, March 27). Thrilling tales and selected shorts: An adult story time for your library [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2017, October 18). Telling stories. Library Journal. Retrieved from Wright, D. (2017, March 14). Librarians of the 21st Century: Worst story time ever? (or best?). Literary Hub. Retrieved from


Fig. 1 Rhodes, Steve (2010). Dave Eggers introducing Bill Cotter at City Lights, [photograph]. Retrieved on October 20, 2019 from Flickr commons

Fig. 2 byronv2 (2019). John Connolly event at the Eric Liddell Center 02, [photograph]. Retrieved on October 20, 2019 from Flickr commons


  1. This plan looks great! I love how you identified a partnering location where you think Adult Storytime would be useful and appreciated. I also think it’s great that you though of how this program could reach new library users, which is a tenet of Library 2.0! 🙂

  2. Hi Christine, I really enjoyed your focus on storytime for grownups. I would definitely attend such an event if my local library offered it. I think your plan is viable and would work well to bring the community together, which is what the hyperlinked library aims to do!

  3. Hi Christine,

    This sounds wonderful! I’ve always been a fan and I think that adult storytime would be well appreciated and loved. I think it’s a creative program that will reach new library users or users that are often times overlooked. I also loved the graphic you used for the time line or action steps to get this program completed by. I also appreciated that in case the bookshop did not wish to participate, then you had another plan in place to e event in the community room at the North Hollywood branch of LAPL. I personally think bookshops would jump at the chance to host this event. People love to meet casually at places like coffee shops or bookstores, which act as a center for communication and socialization. I think if these partnerships occurred and the program went forward, people might see libraries in a new light. I think this could bring conversation. People already love sitting together, reading books and going to book clubs so I can see adult story times as a great new venue for social activity.

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