Turn a Phone Booth into a Library in Four Easy Steps

book booth highland park los angeles photo

Amy Inouye sets up the Highland Park Book Booth. Photos via Good (left) and 90042 (right).

Turning a disused pay-phone booth into a community library has been done before. But Los Angeles-based artist Amy Inouye may be the first to break the process down into easy-to-follow steps that help answer the pressing questions of aspiring street librarians: Which of the many abandoned phone booths in my neighborhood should I choose? Will the neighbors think I'm weird? And what happens if all the books in the library suck?Inouye, the head of the Future Studio gallery, gave Good the inside scoop on how she "transform[ed] a neighborhood eyesore into a neighborhood gem" in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. According to the magazine's "How To: Turn a Payphone Into a Library," a book booth can be set up in four simple steps.

Location is Key
First, location, location, location. Find a spot "where people already linger, meet, or hang out." It doesn't even have to be a phone booth -- it could be an unused newspaper dispenser, an old bench, or some sidewalk space in front of an agreeable local business.

Second, get the support of nearby merchants and build "pre-launch" buzz among the neighbors so the booth can open fully stocked.

And So is a 'Librarian'
Speaking of stocked, the third thing every successful street library needs is a "curator" to keep it from becoming a dumping ground for trashy paperbacks and obscure tomes. "Inouye checks the Highland Park booth almost every day to keep it neat and "family friendly,'" Good writes. "She also manages the content. After receiving a stack of 20 year-old textbooks she slowly put them out one at a time. 'Eventually all of them got taken,' she says."

Fourth and finally, let the booth take on a life of its own. If someone decides to pull up a chair to read there, all the better.

Now if only it were easier to find some phone booths that look as cool as the ones in Britain do.

More about libraries:
Make Your Books Greener: Start a Library at the Office
Find Any Library Book, Anywhere
Libraries as the Next Big Pop Culture Phenomenon
New York's Newest, Greenest Library
Library Use is Booming Because of Recession
Kill-A-Watt Meters Available at Ottawa's Public Library
How Do You Build A Library in the Age of Google?

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