Even though there are still more than 13,000 public payphones on New York City sidewalks, they are seen by most residents as dead technology, if they are noticed at all. But NY architect and civil society activist John Locke, the guy behind the Department of Urban Betterment project, has begun an effort to repurpose some payphones as communal libraries or bookdrops.
Locke has begun a guerilla campaign installing bookshelves on payphones and filling them with books for neighborhood residents to borrow or exchange. He uses machine-cut plywood sheets designed with indents to hang securely on the booths without impeding access to the phones. The goals are simply to draw attention to these relics of shared public spaces and to imagine new and diverse ways for neighbors to interact in shared urban spaces.