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Phone box book exchange scheme trialled in Bearsted

Bookworms in Bearsted can now swap their favourite novels with other villagers at an old phone box.

The parish council is trialling the exchange system on The Street for six months after the idea was suggested by members of a local book group.

The Bearsted Book Exchange. Picture: Elaine Cooper (16544231)
The Bearsted Book Exchange. Picture: Elaine Cooper (16544231)

The box was already home to a potentially lifesaving defibrillator but has now developed a second use, which those behind the concept hope will encourage more reading and stop old books being thrown away.

Elaine Cooper, who brought the idea to the council, said all are welcome to use the facility by selecting a book, taking it away to read before returning, or replacing one they take out with one from home they no longer want or need.

She added: "It should be a continuously evolving and changing library of sorts and can include children's books as well as adults'.

"Our only request is that users keep it tidy and do not block or interfere with the defribillator.

"The book exchange idea has been introduced already in other phone boxes elsewhere in the UK and abroad and has been welcomed widely."

The Bearsted Book Exchange. Picture: Elaine Cooper (16544233)
The Bearsted Book Exchange. Picture: Elaine Cooper (16544233)

Indeed, a similar idea was rolled out in Chartham, near Canterbury, earlier this year, with BT offering communities the chance to turn the old boxes into new assets for just £1.

Elaine added: "Bearsted is the sort of community that should have such a resource and where I think it will get used.

"It also means books get recycled and reused by others instead of being thrown away.

"I have not yet seen anyone use the phone box in Bearsted in this capacity, but am hoping that once it has been advertised and people know about it, they will use it.

"If it is successful, and the parish council agrees, we can add more shelving at a later date."

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