Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What To Do With Those Old Payphones?

In these days of cell phones and superior forms of communication the old public payphone is a dinosaur. They stand there like portals into a bygone phone phreaking era. Ripped from their former places of glory they are disappearing one by one.

Today while meandering through cyberspace I happened upon a photo which looked familiar. It was the photo of a phone booth converted into a little impromptu lending library. Now I have been meaning to blog on this cute little topic because I had seen this reported as happening in England. Towns were converting these old phone booths into libraries. They were buying the government owned phone boxes for a discounted price and doing something very good with them. Not all were converted into libraries, but others were turned to other uses like showing off art, wifi hotspots, etc.

Thimble Islands, Brandford, CT.
Now I thought that this fad had started in England, but that may not be the case. The article I read detailing the English phone booth conversion was dated roughly three years ago. However, while I was poking around this morning I found a news article dated five years ago in Connecticut. (Note - that booth is now on the list of places that I am going to visit.) I really am curious to know where this fad started. I love digging into this type of pop-cultural history. I don't know if the people who have been doing this in Britain got the idea from the article about CT. I'll have to look into this. I can't really see these events spawning independently of each other. It is just so in the niche. Obviously, I will start by trying to contact whoever converted the phone booth in CT since that is the earlier conversion.

One of the English phone kiosks.
In researching this article I've found that an individual in New York is spearheading an effort to do something similar in New York. He is installing shelves around still operating phones to do provide a take a book leave a book option. As long as property isn't being damaged I have no issue with. Yet, in NYC I don't see how sustainable this effort is going to be. Its not that I have no faith in New Yorkers, it is just that I have no faith in New Yorkers. The conversions I have discovered have been in rural / suburban settings.   

There is also the phenomena of the Little Free Libraries. Again something similar, but not quite the same. There are quite a few of those little guys all over the place. A few of which are probably in a neighborhood near you. There are three right here in Western Mass. This is a blog for another day.

Overall, this is an awesome idea. This is what I mean by pushing for library support in a positive manner. This shows the community that people need libraries without ticking them off by hiking their trash fee and things like that. I love this idea. It shows actual community support. It shows the community how fun library support can be. Plus, it is just a great to have for a community landmark and adds little spice to local life. I want one!

Adding a little warmth on a snowy day!

For further reading:

Guerilla Libraries in NYC

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