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Phone booths to be reborn as libraries

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-24 07:32

More than 260 public phone booths - which have become obsolete in the age of mobile devices - will be turned into mini-libraries in Shanghai's downtown Xuhui district, according to the district's cultural bureau.

There will be six different types of booths, including library booths, celebrity exhibition booths and electronic booths.

More than 60 books will be placed in a vending machine in each booth, allowing residents to borrow and return books around the clock.

"Residents will first need to apply for a library card at the Shanghai Library, and they can use the card and their palm prints to borrow and return books," said Wang Zhuojun, a spokeswoman for the bureau.

The district is the former home of some political figures and celebrities, such as Soong Ching Ling, the wife of Sun Yat-sen and known as the "mother of modern China". Another is Ba Jin, one of the country's literary giants, who died in 2005.

The booths, which are near the figures' former residences, will be revamped to provide information about them. People will be able to read books and browse digital albums to learn about them.

Electronic booths will be equipped with tablets with which users will be able to listen to audio files and read e-books.

Wang said the revamping of the telephone booths will be complete this year. The first will make its debut soon on Fuxing Middle Road.

"The booths will maintain their familiar red color and will still have phones for people to make free emergency calls," she said.

Many internet users welcomed the idea, and some from other cities expressed envy. Some netizens wrote on Sina Weibo that they hoped the more than 7,000 booths will include other functions, such as facilities to pay electrical, water and phone bills, or to charge mobile phones.

Red phone booths are iconic on the streets of the United Kingdom, but some of them have also been remolded into mini-coffee shops or flower shops.

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