With mobile phones taking over, there seems little need for phone booths anymore, but rather than get rid of the iconic red booths in the UK, local communities are using them for new purposes. British Telecom is encouraging towns to turn their phone booths into mini libraries and so far hundreds of communities have transformed their telephone box. If your community’s phone booth sits empty, learn how to transform one into your very own local lending library over here.
BiebBus is a portable children’s library in The Netherlands built from a recycled shipping container. Architect Jord den Hollander came up with this fun idea for the pop-up library to support communities who lack funds or space. BiebBus can be pulled behind a truck, parked and popped open to provide a small library and a top floor reading room.
Activist-artist Raul Lemesoff’s “Arma De Instruccion Masiva“, or “Weapon of Mass Instruction,” is a peaceful, mobile library to cart around free reading material in Argentina. The tank-inspired vehicle uses a 1979 Ford Falcon as its frame and is outfitted with shelves and around 900 books of all genres. Lemesoff has toured all over Argentina bringing books with him wherever he goes and now hopes to do something similar in Peru and Bolivia.
This spiraling tower in Buenos Aires was built with over 30,000 donated books. Called the Tower of Babel, the sculpture was built with books donated from all over the world in honor of the city being named the 2011 World Book Capital. When it was time to take the sculpture down, visitors were encouraged to pick and book and take it home with them.
Named after Otets Paisiy, one of Bulgaria’s most famous authors, this awesome new public library makes use of an old trolleybus in Plovdiv. Designed by locally-based Studio 8 1/2, the Otets Paisiy Public Library is part of a larger effort by citizens to revitalize this area of town. Parked on the side of the street, the trolleybus library holds 600 books and provides plenty of cozy spots to settle in and read.
Just like in the UK, phone booths aren’t of much use for making calls, but they are practical infrastructure for other uses. Architect John Locke attached a pumpkin-orange set of shelves to an obsolete phone booth near 96th Street to create a mini, ultra-public library. Now the obsolete phone booth is useful and local residents are using it to pass books back and forth.