repurposed phone booth library in NYC
original content
feb 17, 2012
repurposed phone booth library in NYC


the phone booth library installed by john locke in new york city

on the streets of new york architect john locke has repurposed phone booths into communal libraries or book drops,
installing bookshelves within the structures filled with books for residents to take, borrow, or exchange.
the phonebooth shown here, ‘DUB 002‘, is part of his ‘department of urban betterment‘ interventionist project.

adopting the same concept as james econs’s ‘phoneboox‘ in the UK, locke’s project consists of a machine-cut
and assembled plywood shelf, designed with indents to hang securely to the interior of the phone booth
without the need for any additional fasteners. the pay phone and all signage remains completely viewable
and operable, nestled within the frame of the bookshelf. installed in manhattan valley and morningside heights,
the design is easily replicable in phonebooths throughout the city.


additional and closer views of the shelving unit


passersby stop to browse the books


detail on shelving unit, imprinted with john locke’s insignia for the ‘DUB’ (‘department of urban betterment’)


construction diagram: milled from a single sheet of plywood, the shelf hangs freely from the phonebooth without the need for additional fasteners

even as they are rendered obsolete by the ubiquity of smartphones, I’m interested in pay phones because
they are both anachronistic and quotidian. relics, they’re dead technology perched on the edge of obsolescence,
a skeuomorph hearkening back to a lost shared public space we might no longer have any use for.
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.’
– john locke

all books in the project were donated by local residents.
brooklyn-based fabricators kontraptionist milled the plywood for the shelving.


part of a series of poster graphics designed by locke about the project

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