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New York Designer Creates the Most Polished Phone Booth Library Yet

Is the pay phone an anachronism or an opportunity? Designer John Locke can upgrade one into a book nook in five minutes flat.

When's the last time you used a pay phone? We're guessing it's been a while. Those fixtures of urban living are fast becoming relics and John Locke, architectural designer and "spontaneous interventionist," can upgrade any old drab phone booth into a pocket library in five minutes flat. "Is the pay phone an anochronism, or an opportunity?" asks Locke.


The New York Times caught wind of Locke's hijinx this weekend, but design blogs have been gushing over his playful structural elaborations for some time now. Here at GOOD, we noted an early iteration of defunct phone booth to guerrilla lending library in the streets of Los Angeles from Future Studio, but we'll admit that Locke's product is far more polished. The designer also resists taking the whole thing too seriously.

What happens to the installations after the first few minutes is a bit of a mystery to Mr. Locke. He checks on them periodically, he said, until they disappear—after a few days or a few weeks. Which is fine with him.

“It’s a spontaneous thing that just erupts at certain locations,” he said. “People like it, people are inspired by it, but then it disappears again.”

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Locke is no Andrew Carnegie—he's only responsible for the founding of four tiny libraries so far, but we applaud his efforts to get people looking for creative opportunities in even the most mundane bit of street infrastructure. He's also open sourced his design and it's available on his site, so feel free to steal this idea.

Image via John Locke

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