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Hello? Is It Books You’re Looking For?
February 21, 2012
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When's the last time you used a payphone? New York architect John Locke is hoping he can convince people to use them a lot more, although not for their original purpose. He's trying to bring literacy to the people, one phone booth at a time. That's the idea behind his new communal libraries or book drops, consisting of plywood shelving units with books inside, which he's installed in two booths in New York City.

The shelving is designed to slip over the payphones neatly, with no further hanging equipment required. Locke then places a number of books into the shelves, in the hopes that passersby will grab a title for themselves, and return with a replacement book of their own later. So far his success rate is mixed - one of the two "libraries" was emptied of books, and the shelving itself was taken - but he told The Atlantic Cities that he's planning on putting up many more of the units and he's hopeful it will catch on.

The idea of using a phone booth as a lending library isn't new, however. James Econs created 'Phoneboox' in Britain last year, installing basic shelving into red phone booths in Kingston, UK with a message from books to patrons written on the edge: "Welcome to Take Me. But Please Make Sure To Replace Me!". And back in 2009, Westbury-sub-Mendip, another British town, opened a 24-hour phone booth library when they lost their mobile lending library due to lack of funds.

John Locke's NYC Phone Booth Library


James Econs's 'Phoneboox'


Westbury-sub-Mendip's 24-Hour Phone Booth Library


Related stories on

VIDEO OF THE DAY: The Bookstore After Hours

Getting To Give: Books For Books And Givmo


The Atlantic Cities Interview with John Locke

Design Boom on James Econs's Phoneboox

Inhabitat on Westbury-sub-Mendip's 24-Hour Phone Booth Library


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