A Very Small Library in a Phone Box!

This morning I came across the wonderful story of possibly the smallest library in the country on the When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Librarian blog, a Somerset village community have adopted the old village phone box and transformed it into a lending library.  It’s extremely simple too, people donate unwanted books, DVDs and CDs to the phone box and then borrow anything that takes their fancy.

Sounds like a fantastic way for the community to maintain some sort of library service within the village (the mobile library service was cancelled a few months ago)  and also preserve a classic symbol of Britishness in the process.  Small rural village communities are often cut off from many public services and for those without transport visiting a library can be difficult.  In the wake of the recession, have come increased budget cuts and financial pressure for local authorities and the needs of certain communities can be neglected.   I wonder if the public phone box library might spark a trend amongst similar rural communities across the country where library services are being cut and people are left without?

7 comments on “A Very Small Library in a Phone Box!

  1. It’s a wonderful idea, but I’m wondering whether, if it did start a new trend for other places, would all people be loyal and not steal from the phonebox library. I’m guessing it’s not manned?

  2. Guess that all depends on the place really…It probably works very well in a small village with only a few hundred residents, where everybody knows everybody else and there is a proper sense of community spirit. It would not work where I’m from, some might steal and others might just vandalise the whole thing. In fact it wouldn’t even happen in the first place as being a community driven project it would require an actual community in the first place! It’s fantastic that the residents of Westbury-sub-Mendip have achieved this and made it work for them. Must be so much better than the mobile libraries which visit villages like that every 3 weeks or so for about 20 minutes.

  3. I agree it is a great idea although it does depend solely on people being trust worthy which in place other than very small villages is often not the case. A few years ago I heard of a similar thing but on a global scale. People would leave books in random places such as trains or cafes and people could take it and read the book as long as they left another book in its place. Inside the book was a website address where you were meant to enter the date and place you found the book. This meant that the movements of the book could be tracked. Some books literally travelled the world. I think it worked quite well surprisingly!

  4. Yes! I have never done it but would love to start. They also suggest that public or school libraries can have a book swopping section. I was not sure if this would ever really work particularly in a public library. There would be too much risk of confusion between what was available to be swapped and what was not. Although it maybe a good way of removing unwanted books from a library without simply discarding them. What do you all think?

  5. There is a wee book swap box in the train station in Banbury. It seems to have a good turnover, but the books are often Catherine Cooksons or PD James so I haven’t read any yet.

    The phone box does seem like a good idea. The only bonus of the mobile library was that, as it had a fixed time, people might be able to profit from that to meet up with their neighbours.

  6. Really interesting post- thanks Laura. I think a library like this is very reliant upon the honesty of readers and it got me thinking… I have recently become involved with a charity in Sierra Leone which has rebuilt a school and library destroyed during the Civil War. Their library is entirely composed of book donations and books are still highly sought after and can be tricky to come by. Several of the teachers were hesitant to allow children to borrow from the library, fearing that the books would be taken and sold on. However, the Chair of the charity encouraged extensive library use and borrowing rights within the school and no books have gone missing yet. I think this, along with the phonebox library, is a great example of a community working together in order to preserve the resources in their community for all to enjoy.

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