chestnut book blog

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Telephone Box Libraries

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We were whizzing through the West Country a few weekends ago, on our way home after a lovely day with friends who have recently decamped to the country. The weather was absolutely terrible, but through the gloom of a night downpour, I saw a beacon of light.

A library in a telephone box

A library in a telephone box! Unknown source but please contact me if it is yours and I’ll gladly credit or remove.

An old telephone box had been turned into a tiny library. The small glow from the lights beamed out through the rain, picking out the cheerful covers. I didn’t have the inclination to get out into the dark and have a closer look at the time, but it has been on my mind ever since. What a good idea! Is there one near you?

I suspect this kind of thing can only work in small communities because they operate on trust, but what a wonderful way to both protect old telephone boxes, rapidly disappearing because of mobile phones, and help isolated communities access books. The more I think about it, the more I admire the person who thought of it. Could you get a more perfect marriage of two great old survivors, analogue ideas in a digital world?

Whilst I was growing up, we used to drive past a reclamation yard which always seemed to have these beautiful old telephone boxes. They were derelict and on sale as a rather grand garden ornament. The sight always made me a little sad. Isn’t the tiny library a much better use of them?

A quick look around the internet has shown me that these libraries are popping up in rural communities around the U.K. This completely bucks the trend in the closing of public libraries, and shows me that essential services, for that is what libraries are, find a way to survive.



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