New York architect John Locke recently launched a project to repurpose phone booths into pop-up communal libraries. The project, DUB 00, turns antiquated phone booths into bookshelves that allow visitors to take, borrow, or exchange books. Using a single piece of plywood, the bookshelf hangs securely to the interior of the booth without altering the original positions of the pay phone and signs. The phone booth libraries, as part of Locke’s “Urban Betterment Project,” have been installed in Manhattan Valley and Morningside Heights.
Even as they are rendered obsolete by the ubiquity of smartphones, I’m interested in pay phones because they are both anachronistic and quotidian. But they can also be a place of opportunity, something to reprogram and somewhere to come together and share a good book with your neighbors.