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New York’s Pop-Up Libraries

Written by 9 March 2012 4 Comments

Did you know that there are 13,659 payphones on New York’s sidewalks despite there being over 17 million cell phones owned by the citizens?… “But what has got to do with pop-up libraries??!” I hear you cry! Well, New York architect, John Locke, noticed this and became intrigued by the seemingly pointless and obsolete existence of payphones. He loves them in a nostalgic sense but, hell, they could be put to a better use nowadays! With some carpentry skills, Locke managed to develop a shelving unit that slots perfectly and snugly into the open booth. And on these shelves, he has begun stocking books for the New Yorkers patrolling the streets!

Lock’s pop-up libraries have begun! His  first couple had mixed success, as the first was stolen (books and shelves) but the second continued with some noted success. He’s encouraging anyone to participate and give/swap books to the libraries and borrow. No library card required since Locke is gutted that the art of reading is being forgotten in todays ‘go-go-go’ society. Most of us have some kind of technology glued to our fingers and eyes (Hand-up, I’m guilty) which can keep us instantly entertained and keep up with our growing ADHD approach when it comes to absorbing information!

The phone booths have represented a sense of nostalgia to Locke of a forgotten world of where phone booths provided communication… but they are now going to continue in a sense of giving values back to the community. The Department of Urban Betterment (D.U.B) is Locke’s mission in New York: “(There are) ample opportunities in the urban cities to reassert ourselves as stewards of urban goodwill”….the ‘urban realm has been developing for the worse’. So in his own way, Locke is hitting back at the fast-pace society of today with his libraries. He figures the poor (or those who have devastatingly lost their iPhone) use the booths the most frequently so are the perfect venue for a mini-library, and in their simple beauty, a work of art.

The phone booths a.k.a “Dead technology perched on the edge of obsolescence” will still remain a tribute to shared public space and promote the love of reading that is fading in the bright glow of the iPad’s light.

To the streets of New York and read like you’ve never read before, my pretties!!!!

Image 1 via The Atlantic Cities, image 2 via Rabbit38, image 3 via Meech4Peace and image 4 via Laughing Squid.

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  • Surprise Me Sunday said:

    […] Read more about the DUB library project at The Atlantic Cities and travelettes. […]

  • Carol said:

    John Locke should check out bookcrossings.com. It’s “the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.” It’s a world wide project.
    You register your books that you want to “set free” (after all, what good is it to have them set on the shelves or in boxes for years, they were meant to be read). The site gives you a tracking number to put on the book on a note about the concept. Then you set them free and log the location on the website. The finder is asked (via the note on book) to get on the Book Crossing website to report finding it, read it and then post where they will leave it next. Anyone can register free and get tracking numbers for their books.
    I toted 50 books on a road trip to Florida dropping a few here and a few there down the East Coast. Someone in Key West found one in a pavilion on a public beach (sealed in a baggie to prevent dampness). Another was picked up in a Holiday Inn Express in West VA.
    This would fit perfectly with the telephone kiosk concept in NYC.

  • Sophie said:

    Wow! That sounds great!
    You should check out this article too, which i wrote:

    similar concept!! :)

  • Barza said:

    There were dozens of unofficial book zones in the Green Zone in Baghdad while there was a large presence there. Many of the books were donated by civic groups in the U.S., but as time went on other books filtered through.

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