The New York Public Library Launches “Story Line,” A New Dial-In Phone Storytime Service

The Library will share a weekly storytime that can be accessed over the phone for young readers, including those without internet access, during these unprecedented times

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January 11, 2021—With one phone call, children and caregivers can now experience the excitement of in-person storytimes from The New York Public Library.

The Library today launched Story Line, a new dial-a-story service that will offer all kids, including those without access to the internet, access to a free, weekly recorded storytimes featuring expert children’s librarians by phone. Recordings will be available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, and will be released every Monday via the Library’s virtual support and reference desk Ask NYPL (917-ASK-NYPL or 917-275-6975). More information can be found at

“We are living through an exceptional time, and as librarians, we feel a great responsibility to find new ways to reach more parents/caregivers and children who can benefit from the LIbrary's programs. With limited service available at physical branches, we have explored opportunities in the digital world, but also understand the need for more traditional formats and platforms to support those with limited online access," said Lynn Lobash, The New York Public Library's Associate Director of Reader Services. "The Library can be such an important place for young minds. Over the phone, our amazing story readers can help children tap into their imaginations with the perfect story choices and by utilizing their animated voices."

Each storytime will run under 5 minutes. The books used each week will be selected from the Library’s collection of children’s books and available for checkout at its grab-and-go locations or via the Library’s e-reader app SimplyE (which can be accessed by smartphone).

Some of the books featured include:

  • English: New York Baby illustrated by Ward Jenkins, read by Theresa Panza from City Island  branch

  • Spanish: Pequeño Elliot read by Jessica Agudelo from the Bronx Library Center

  • Mandarin Chinese: The Six People & the Elephant read by Ching Yi Lau from Chatham Square Branch

Story Line is the latest way the Library is supporting New Yorkers during the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, including those who do not have access to the internet. In October 2020, for example, the Library launched Shelf Help, a personalized book selection service, to replicate the serendipitous discovery of browsing and in-branch reference services, two offerings currently possible due to COVID-19. Patrons share subject matters that they’re interested in, and expert librarians choose 5 books for the patron to pick up and take home. Hundreds of patrons have already participated. 

Additionally, the Library continues to offer a robust suite of virtual resources to support New York City students and young readers while branches are offering limited service,  including:

About The New York Public Library

For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at