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Saturday, April 24, 2021

How to Get Permission for StoryWalks

This post originally appeared on the ALSC Blog on April 7, 2021. It is reposted here with permission.

You can read my other posts about my library's StoryWalk here:
Does your library have a StoryWalk®? Are you thinking of adding one? My library added ours in 2019 and our patrons LOVE IT! One question I get all the time is how to get publisher permission for StoryWalks®. Today, I’ll share what I’ve learned in the past 2 years.

The first stop on our StoryWalk! Photo by Luis Munoz, used with permission.

What is a StoryWalk®?

A StoryWalk® is just what it sounds like. It’s a picture book presented on posts along a walking path or trail so that you read the story as you walk along the path. Started at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, VT, you can now find StoryWalks® all over the country. There are many posts about StoryWalks® on the ALSC Blog – check out the StoryWalk® tag to see them all! I’ve written more about the Floyd County Library StoryWalk® on my personal blog, so feel free to check that out, too. The original StoryWalk® calls for books to be physically disassembled and the pages laminated and posted to avoid violating the title’s copyright. But if you would like to scan or screen capture and reprint the book (which is a lot easier if you have someone who knows how to do it), you’ll need permission for StoryWalks®.

How do I get permission for StoryWalks®?

Ask the publisher! The first step is figuring out what company has published the title you want to use. Check the copyright information in the book and it should list the publisher. Be aware that many larger publishers have multiple imprints, so Google is your friend. You want to find the parent publishing company. That’s who you’ll need to ask for permission. Once you’ve determined the publisher of the title, check their website for a page titled Permissions. I have sometimes found this under a Contact Page. If all else fails, you could do a web search for [publisher’s name] + permissions and hopefully that will get you to the right place.

I have also had some success with contacting the library marketing contact I have at a publisher. That’s something you can try if you’re having trouble figuring out who to ask. They likely can’t grant you permission for StoryWalks® themself, but they often will be able to quickly get you to the right person. And the blog Early Word has a really handy list of children’s library marketing contacts if you need it.

Every publisher treats StoryWalks® differently

Some publishers will have an online form you can fill out. Some will ask you send your request in writing by email. If you’re sending in your request, it’s helpful to include the full title and author’s name, the ISBN of the book, and the publishing imprint. The publisher may also need to know the address where the book will be displayed and the dates you intend to display it.

I don’t think I’ve filled out any publisher permission forms that actually listed StoryWalk® as an intended use. You may need to get creative and select whichever option is closest to what you need. I believe every online form I’ve seen includes space somewhere where you can describe your project. That’s a great place to include information about your StoryWalk®.

Some publishers charge for permissions

Most of the publishers I have approached have granted permission for StoryWalks® for free. Some publishers list a charge on their website, but I have been granted gratis permission by approaching them through a library marketing contact.

Plan ahead because it can take some time!

In my experience, some publishers are quicker to respond than others. Prepare for it to take a number of weeks or months for a publisher to get back with you. (Just like you and me, they have a lot of tasks on their to-do lists!)

And a caveat…

I am still learning this process myself and I have not worked with every publisher. Since I have not worked with every publisher, I am not going to get more specific with details about what which publishers do or don’t do here. If in doubt, reach out to them and ask!

What questions do you have?

I know you probably have more questions about StoryWalks®, so let’s hear them! Or if you have a StoryWalk® at your library, I’d love to hear your advice, tips, and tricks! Feel free to share in comments. And happy StoryWalk®ing!

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