Guerilla Libraries by John Locke

While New York city debates about what it’s going to do with its 13,000 remaining sidewalk telephone booths, John Locke is stealthily implementing his own idea – installing and stocking clip-in bookshelves on quiet Sunday mornings.

“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. Something to be nostalgic for, in the way I can’t think about a phone booth without conjuring up images of an old, impatient woman banging on the door to one while I was inside using a calling card to ask for money. And of course they are nuisance, basically pedestrian level billboards that only blight certain neighborhoods (good luck finding a payphone in Tribeca, while there are eight separate phone kiosks on one block between 108th and 109th streets and Columbus Ave). 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

Read more:

Superman, Grab a Book – New York Times
John Locke’s Design Blog – 3rd Installation July 2012
Video interview with Locke by the NYT

* (I learn so much doing this blog.) Here is part of  Wikipedia’s explanation of a new-to-me design term that Locke used above:
“A skeuomorph /ˈskjuːəmɔrf/ SKEW-ə-morf, or skeuomorphism (Greek: skeuos—vessel or tool, morphe—shape),[1] is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original.[2] Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar,[3] such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with a circular town name and cancellation lines.”



Filed under What to Do With Discarded Books

3 responses to “Guerilla Libraries by John Locke

  1. I read about these little libraries some time ago and have been fascinated with the ingenuity of some people. These phone booths are much like the little sidewalk libraries that are going up in neighborhoods across the country. Libraries may be changing, but they are far from dead. thanks for the vocabulary lesson. what a lovely word!

    • Years ago, when I was the public library manager, I set up a wire unit in the grocery store and stocked it with discards. It was very well used, both for takers and leavers for many years until the grocery store saw fit to get rid of it. I think these little free libraries are wonderful and since these booths will need to be repurposed or dismantled, this seems like a perfect fit.

      About the vocabulary lesson…I wonder if the day I want to use it, I’ll remember it! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Guerilla Libraries by John Locke | K-12 Libraries and Technology |

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