Poetry News

A Conversation with the Payphone Librarian

By Harriet Staff

Well, this is awesome. Columbia architecture grad John Locke has been fashioning pop-up libraries inside of old payphones. John Metcalfe at The Atlantic caught up with Locke.

Here's a snippet. Make the jump for more, including photos.

Based on your experiments, do you see the public-phone library as a viable concept?

The phone-booth conversions are part of an ongoing experiment that has not been perfected yet. But I think it can be. The response by people who see them and stop and wonder, What the hell is this thing doing here? has been totally positive, and that's enough motivation to keep trying.

How did you get this idea in the first place?

The ubiquity of phone booths is interesting because they are completely obsolete, unevenly distributed in outlying neighborhoods and they carry a strong sense of nostalgia with me. They've already evolved from their original function as person-to-person communication technology into their second iteration as pedestrian-scaled billboards. I wanted to see if there is a third option in that, yes, they get our eyes for advertising dollars, but they can also give value back to a neighborhood. I was most interested in turning what is perceived as an urban liability into an opportunity.

And what more can you say about books? They're the greatest things ever, and everyone should have more.


Originally Published: February 22nd, 2012