Whatever your feelings about the future prospects of print book libraries, there is no doubt that they are anything but the cutting edge of library services. And the same can be said of public telephone call boxes. So it is a tad heartening to see several instances in the UK of people repurposing the iconic red telephone box, now just about as dated as the original Dr Who Tardis, as miniature local libraries and book exchanges.
The latest is in Lewisham in London, making it the smallest library in the capital, but others have been sighted in Essex and Derbyshire, and seem to be mushrooming across the country. There’s even a gazeteer here, with further details. Most appear to be adjuncts to local services, offering information and community support as well as books.
There is only one reason to begrudge these lovely anachronisms – with the current mood in the UK government, anything that smacks of volunteerism in library provision might be taken as an excuse to offload the whole sector entirely.