Today the Atlantic posted an interview with John Locke who has decided to make pop-up libraries out of Manhattan pay phones. He's created custom shelving to fit nicely into these phone shelters and stocked them with books, inviting any passerby to borrow or even stock with something from their own shelf.
About his idea, Locke says in the article, "The ubiquity of phone booths is interesting because they are completely
obsolete, unevenly distributed in outlying neighborhoods and they carry a
strong sense of nostalgia with me. They've already evolved from their
original function as person-to-person communication technology into
their second iteration as pedestrian-scaled billboards. I wanted to see
if there is a third option in that, yes, they get our eyes for
advertising dollars, but they can also give value back to a
neighborhood. I was most interested in turning what is perceived as an
urban liability into an opportunity."
I'm not sure that I agree that the phone booth is obsolete just yet. I know I can get forgetful when it comes to charging my cell phone and still carry some emergency change in case my phone is dead and I need to call for a cab or my partner to come pick me up. And hey, I still know a handful of people who are still holding strong to not getting wired (honest!). Nevermind that I'm sure there are many people for whom a cell phone is still too expensive.
Regardless, I love his idea of seeing these spaces as an opportunity to engage the public and re-invent public furniture as a public library no less! Super cool.
For more on this project and some pictures of the mini-libraries themselves, check out the link to the article above.
Many thanks to Chris Hardwick for pointing us to this article.