DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Feb 27 2012

Guerilla Libraries

by Jesse M

NYC phone booth guerilla libraryI’ve posted before on the subject of phone booth-to-library conversion, specifically, about the English village of Westbury-sub-Mendip and their beloved red phone box library. Today’s post also concerns phone booth-to-library conversion, but of a slightly different sort. Whereas the conversion of the Westbury-sub-Mendip phone booth was a project approved by the parish council, the “guerilla libraries” installed by Columbia architecture grad John Locke and sponsored by the fictitious “Department of Urban Betterment” are an independent attempt at re-purposing the mostly obsolete New York City phone booths into something that adds value to the community.

Locke’s bookshelves are simple plywood consoles that slip over payphones “as neatly as aprons”, no hardware or fasteners required, leaving the payphone usable while creating additional shelf space for library materials. Thus far, Locke has set up two phone booth libraries, with plans for many more.

The Atlantic has published an interview with Locke where he discusses his inspiration, process, public reception, and plans for future projects (which include “planning an unsolicited redesign of the MTA to help solve their very real multimillion-dollar budget gap, as well as the design of a distributed pavilion, the pieces of which people in the area can download, print and keep with them to assemble whenever a quorum of users is reached”).

How do you feel about projects like this? Would you appreciate seeing something similar happen in your neighborhood? Would it make a difference whether it was government run/approved? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen February 28, 2012 at 5:29 PM

I can’t find the exact article I read yesterday, but this library box idea/movement is happening across the country. The link below is to an article on library boxes in Portland, Oregon: http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/12/portland_book_lovers_nurture_n.html

Cheryl March 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM

I think this is a great idea! Turning obsolete public eyesores into a community service, what could be better? But the phone companies who own the booths might view it differently, and want to find a way to generate profits from it or snuff it out. Let’s hope they embrace it instead, in the spirit of giving back!

Stephen March 7, 2012 at 6:00 PM

The “lost” article I mentioned above was in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for March 4, 2012. It interviews the “librarian” of one of these libraries. The article doesn’t appear to be online anymore, but maybe in their archives. There’s also information on little free libraries at http://www.littlefreelibrary.org.

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