24 February 2012

Leave a Novel, Take a Novel

John Locke (a fantastic name, btw) has a graduate's degree in architecture from Columbia University and has worked at the prestigious, nearly godly, architecture firm SOM. He created a sort of public library system that's located in rather odd places: New York City telephone booths.


For many of us New Yorkers, using the now-obsolete telephone booths is comparable to biological warfare. Even touching the chrome (yuck!) caked in graffiti, not to mention trillions of foreign bacterium, forewarns death. However, Locke is striving to convert the strongly ingrained apprehension toward the telephone booths.

He installed brightly colored shelving units in several booths encouraging readers to exchange books for other readers. You can leave as many books as you like, but social principles dictate that you only take one at a time. I wonder if he got the idea from OWS protesters who would contribute their literature to a communal library. If anything, there's one thing that OWS and the telephone booths have in common: they both present feelings of disgust. Now, I'm not against the OWS movement, but Zucotti Park had a rancid stench that would have made you shudder.

These brightly colored units not only stand out in a crowd, but make the booths seem a tad more approachable. They certainly pop a bit of color into dreary weather and may even lead to heightened usage of the telephones (but lets not get ahead of ourselves).

I appreciate Locke's efforts, but his system would only work in an ideal society. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong place and time. Face it, what are the chances that within a month the entire collection of books will be claimed by homeless people? It's too bad that reality has to come and slap us all in the face. But these libraries suggest that there's a glimmer of hope in creating a kinder, friendlier, less paranoid New York, no?

Until next time,

1 comment :

  1. i was once faced with the monumental decision of using a public phone in the subway for an urgent call... i didn't. i wasn't ready to die of a flesh-eating disease. best decision i've ever made.