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.

Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane