Parasite Library Re-Uses Old Pay Phones

Pay phones are a dying breed in the streets of of New York City (and other cities). But is this a problem or an opportunity?

New York City counts some 13,659 pay phones. Most of them are hardly used and beg for new functions. Architect John Locke is the man behind the Department of Urban Betterment, a New York-based interventionist project that is repurposing phone booths into communal libraries or book drops. Although we’ve already seen several efforts to transform old phone booths into book shops, this project is interesting as it is a parasite that uses the existing construction while leaving the phone itself untouched and fully operable. Furthermore, the installation is easy to remove.

Young children that are raised in the cellphone era might not understand what these crazy public phone booths in public space are meant for. Pay phones can be considered relics of a time in which shared public facilities were characterizing public spaces. With this miniature parasite library, Locke searches for a new public use for these intriguing artifacts. Although a next generation kids might also not understand the concept a library with hardcopy books on the shelves…