The Great British Phone Box lives on – as a swop library


On a recent weekend trip to Wales, I spotted this classic red callbox-cum-mini-library – located in a small hamlet somewhere in north Pembrokeshire and featuring a single bookcase.



The phone has been removed by BT due to lack of use but as British Telecom’s notice says inside:

“…a consultation on payphone removals has highlighted strong feelings towards the retention of red kiosks, without telephony service, for their heritage value alone.”


This K6 (I think?) kiosk, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, is a classic British icon, as red as Routemasters and pillar boxes, but was phased out as they fell into disuse.

I hadn’t heard of BT’s Adopt A Kiosk scheme but what a brilliant idea.

The BT site says that other red telephone boxes have been turned into “grocery shops, wildlife information centres and art galleries. The Community Heartbeat Trust charity has even installed defibrillators in some local boxes.”

A community library seems a good idea, especially where mobile library services are being cut. Not sure about the variety or quality of the books, though…


…but, still, it is great to see the Great British Phone Box live on.


9 responses to “The Great British Phone Box lives on – as a swop library

  1. It’s good if there was nothing in the community for book lending before. Not a library in all but the narrowest of definitions though; it’s just a bunch of books that people can borrow.

    It’s not so good if the local library has been closed, or taken over as a big society sham “community volunteer-run library” – much more in a post am writing on this. As it means (a) skilled information professional has been made unemployed and (b) the community has lost most or all of these”

  2. I don’t think in a million years this little phone box library would have resulted from a local library closing – apart from anything it really was in the middle of nowhere.

    I think it’s more that people have it in their hearts to keep red phone boxes going rather than seeing them on a scrapheap – and the book swap gives it a purpose.

    FWIW, I also hope libraries can find their new purpose and audience in the face of Amazon, internet, Kindles and whatever else is behind their decline.

    Adopt a library?

    • :-)

      Please forgive my grumpy response (you know how us men around the 40 mark get :-). Wish you and Uncle Pete had been at #libcampuk11 in Brum this Saturday as think you would have found it illuminating (and cake-filled fun).

      Book loans are up, year-on-year; ebooks are downloadable through many US libraries, less so in the UK; footfall is also up … where libraries are still open. The only thing behind their decline is politicians looking for the softest target to make cuts or reduce taxes.

      Back to howling at the full moon…

  3. By the way, shouldn’t it be ‘Swap library’?

    If only people read more…


  4. See how I waited you with the word ‘library’. ;)

  5. Stirchley public library has a reference section which includes dictionaries ;-)

    On the libraries adapting front, in the US at least, they are adapting quickly to ebooks. Most offer services where you can borrow an ebook – which makes sense:

  6. I think its a nice idea, but people should respect the books and tidy them up when they leave!

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