Antique phone booth finds new purpose at the Darien Library
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In their time working at the Darien Library, Sally Ijams and Jen Dayton have informed many patrons that they must take their calls outside. This is sometimes a repeated request, and a regular routine in the librarians’ lives. “Everyone’s on their laptops and phones all the time now,” explains Ijams, “but the only quiet places to take calls are in a few reserved rooms, and the demand is far too high.”
The novel solution to this 21st century demand was installed on Thursday, May 18 on the top level of the library. From the outside, it consists of innocuous wood paneling—but open a glass-paneled door on the side, and it has all the furnishings of an early 20th century phone booth. (Except for the phone- library patrons will be providing their own).
Jen Dayton discovered an advertisement for the phone booth from Fairfield Pickers. Ijams and Dayton, who had jokingly discussed installing a phone booth for some time, presented it to library director Alan Gray. “He basically took a look at it and said, ‘yeah, we can do that,’” said Ijams. The phone booth was refinished over the course of several months at the Wood Den in Stamford, where the booth received its new baby-blue interior (“it looked like standing inside a refrigerator before,” said Dayton) and served as the background to many Instagram pictures. The original booth featured a lightbulb, soon to be replaced with its modern, energy-efficient cousin, a motion-sensing LED.
Due to the nature of the graffiti found on the inside of the booth, it is believed to be from the inside of a municipal building, from somewhere between the 1920s-1930s. When the librarians first inspected it, a stamp from 1931 was found slipped underneath the interior shelf.
After a tenuous journey up several flights of library stairs, the booth was installed in a quiet corner of the top balcony floor. Since its installation, it has been the object of many curious onlookers, although the librarians themselves were the quickest to warm up to the addition. To the question of if they’d seen anyone use it, Dayton responded, “well, we have all used it!”
The phone booth in the library is open to all patrons who need to take a call during any library hours. There is a small shelf that functions as a desk for a laptop or note-taking. Maximum occupancy is one.