Unconventional libraries sprout up around Prague

Old telephone booths in Prague are being turned into something called 'KnihoBudka' or 'Book Booth.' Courtesy photo.
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Two friends are transforming the way we think about phone booths

Prague, Jan 9 (ČTK)— Two young Czechs have decided to use old discarded telephone booths in Prague as small free libraries situated at public places, the first of which will be opened in the Institute of Experimental Medicine (IKEM) today, daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) writes in its Prague supplement.

Monika Serbusová and her friend Pavel Železný feel nostalgic for the old telephone booths disappearing from Prague streets. It crossed their mind that they could be rebuilt into public libraries. They immediately started searching sponsors to fund the project.

The Telefónica phone operator's foundation liked the creative idea, and it gave them both money and seven unused telephone booths that Monika and Pavel repaired and varnished. They also made bookshelves of old crates and installed them in the booths.

The organizers then collected many books from various donors, including Monika's grandmother, MfD writes.

The first "Book Booth" (KnihoBudka) will be opened in the IKEM hospital, on the second floor close to the main entrance, MfD says.

The daily adds that two booths are to follow soon in the Na Bulovce hospital and in the Fénix shopping center in Vysočany. Another four are to be installed by Easter.

In the first phase of the project, the authors plan to install the booths with books inside buildings only, but if this project proved to be successful, they could stand in the street, for instance, close to metro stations and at railway stations, MfD writes.

Metro passengers would probably appreciate such small libraries the most, but the Prague Transport Company does not want to open them at the stations for security reasons, MfD says.

The appearance of each BookBooth will be original. The project authors used Facebook to call on people to design one of the seven booths. The winners can then carry out their idea themselves, MfD says.

People can read or borrow books from the booths freely or leave their own books there. If some of the books disappeared, the project authors would replace them from their own stock.

"We do not want people to be bound by rules. This is why they can borrow or exchange books free of charge and as they like," Serbusová told MfD.

The paper writes that there are 1,555 telephone booths in Prague, and their figure has dropped 60 percent in the past 10 years. The remaining ones are used less and less frequently.

"The number of calls has decreased up to 15 percent from year to year. The most-used phone machines are at attractive tourist areas and at [railway] stations," Telefónica spokeswoman Lucie Jungmannová said.

 
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