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A phone box library may sound like something from a fairytale though this magical sight might be closer to home than you think.

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The bright red phone box is one of the most iconic British symbols, providing telephone services across the country and, more likely due to the rise of portable phones, providing shelter from the British weather. Though, if you were to open the telephone box on Pinner’s Eastern Avenue, you would find a colourful array of high quality fiction books. I don’t think that there has ever been a more charming combination.


When lockdown began in March 2020, libraries closed and people began to find new creative ways to spread the joy of books, thus The Little Book Hub (TLBH) was born. TLBH describes themselves as an ‘open air library’. They are an organisation, started by Monique Hershkorn, through which individuals are able to create spaces to supply the community with books to exchange and keep for free without a membership. The community donates books to ensure that there is always a supply available.

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Like many, Miriam Chinnick used her front garden to create her book hub. Miriam’s story in particular, highlights the strength of the community and the way in which books bring people together. “It started with a few boxes of books outside my house and then it really picked up and the community donated bookshelves for us to store the growing collection.” 


To the community’s horror, a few months later, a man came and stole boxes of donated books. By then, Miriam’s book hub had become an essential part of the Eastcote/ Pinner area and people were determined not to see it fail. With the help of the community, Miriam was able to raise £1500 to buy a telephone box from the lobby of a London hotel. The box has provided a permanent, secure place for the books and not to mention, has made the experience all the more enchanting. “When you open the door, a little light turns on and you can come and choose a book any hour of the day.”


Miriam acknowledges the power of the library in the community. "It's really brought everyone together. We see everyone from toddlers to the elderly and we have books for everyone. I always try to come and say hello to people because I might be the only one that somebody talks to over lockdown. It’s a wonderful thing to be part of." With growing concerns over mental health and loneliness throughout the pandemic, initiatives like TLBH have given people somewhere to go and something to look forward to without compromising safety. “We have remained completely safe during the pandemic, encouraging people to wear masks and providing hand sanitiser near the box.”


Free initiatives like Miriam’s have proven to be the saving grace over lockdown by ensuring that people continue to look after their mental wellbeing - whether that be taking a walk to look at the box or choosing a book to pass the time.


Miriam has a large variety of fiction books and she states that one of the most interesting parts of running the library is acknowledging trends. “We only stock high quality fiction books and it’s really lovely to see how interests change especially for children. The nice thing is that there is always a flow of new books.”


Though, Miriam also admits that one of the challenges of running the book hub has been finding a place to put all the excess books. “It really is taking over the house! Although it’s nice because people can ask for a specific book and I’ve usually got it.”


The phone box library will continue to be one of the Pinner/ Eastcote area’s greatest treasures, making for a magical story all within itself. It will prove to be one positive to come out of lockdown which will last forever as a key part of the community.


Visit Miriam’s phone box library on Eastern Avenue, Pinner or if you’re interested in starting your own book hub then visit: www.lttlelocalbookhub.uk
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