Storytelling Matters- So Do School Libraries

Dorcas Hand

Storytelling makes price irrelevant, Kindra Hall said, as she relayed a study on significant objects. Researchers put 200 little knickknacks on eBay and paired them with a compelling story to see how much they would sell for. As an example they put a No. 4 tile on the auction site, which is available for $6 from The Home Depot. They paired that tile with a story of a couple moving into their first home. The tile sold for $88. In another example, they posted a cute little pony, which they purchased for $1. They paired it with a story of a woman whose daughter’s favorite toy was that pony. She said she hoped that someone would enjoy it as much as her daughter did. The selling price: $104.54.

If you’re facing the challenge of value, you’re not telling the right stories. People will pay a lot of money for a good story,” Kindra said. “I’m not telling you to lie; I think the truth is much more interesting.” You can raise the value of something by 3,200 percent with a story, she added.

School libraries need to take this perspective to heart. We are “selling” things we consider essential to student success in a world where our administrators don’t always see them as essential. We need to improve our sales skills.

We need to improve our storytelling skills.

Blogger Ari Pinkus recounted Kindra Hall’s comments at the National Assn of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference last week (Feb 24-26, 2016). I was so intrigued by the post that I am offering a few ideas here. Please read on – this is important to school librarians.

So now to the meat of the matter: STORY. To quote Kindra Hall, via Pinkus: we need to understand what storytelling is not: tagline, slogan, mission statement, history lesson, date on a calendar (If the first line on your website is the year you were founded, you’re missing the point, she said.)…...

Kindra’s three key steps to storytelling: finding the story (not easy); crafting the story (not easy); telling the story (easiest part). Data is not a story, although data supports a story. It is the emotional connection of the story that builds the connection, which sells the product - in this case school librarians and libraries.

In advance of the NAIS conference, attendees were asked to post a photo of everyday objects to tell a story about [their] school life. How might we use this idea to construct still life images to tell the story of the importance of school libraries? How can we improve our storytelling skills, using words to further illuminate what we need our allies and stakeholders to understand? Will you take the challenge? Try it for yourself, for your library and program.

Remember, if you’re facing the challenge of value, you’re not telling the right stories. How will you tell the RIGHT story? Check out the complete blog post for more information.


  1. As I am facing a change in administrators, this is perfect timing for me. Thanks!

  2. In the Art of Storytelling at TWU, graduate students create digital advocacy stories based on one of their core values in librarianship. You can view the assignment at: (Their process may help others craft their own stories.) You can see sample digital stories and some graduate students' stories at: