Barely a day after it opened, Barcelona’s smallest lending library has been forced to close after it was attacked by vandals.
Barcelona’s last surviving telephone booth, which has been converted into a miniature book exchange, information centre and mobile charging point, opened on Saturday, when Catalans celebrate their patron Saint Jordi (Saint George) by exchanging gifts of books and roses.
Two days later workmen were repairing the damage after vandals painted the booth with graffiti and stole the small screen displaying information about local events.
“We expect those responsible to pay for these intolerable and unjustifiable acts,” Jaume Collboni, the deputy mayor said. “There is no place for vandalism in Barcelona.”
The classic glass box booth, the last of its kind in the city, was remodelled and installed outside the civic centre in Sant Genís dels Agudells on the north-west edge of the city.
Using a code available on request from the civic centre, citizens gain access via a keypad to the booth’s 200 books while at the same time charging their mobiles.
The booth is ventilated and at its inauguration was said to be both vandal- and graffiti-proof. It was moved from its original location nearby to the Plaça Meguidó, close to the Casa Groga civic centre that manages it. The miniature library is expected to reopen soon.
Spain’s first public telephone was installed in the Retiro park in Madrid over 100 years ago but this year Telefónica, the company responsible, plans to remove the 14,824 that remain in the country, 500 of them in Barcelona.
Mobile phones have made them redundant and Telefónica estimates that it costs €4.5m (£3.8m) a year to maintain the network, despite a study by the Spanish stock exchange commission published last year that found that only 1% of Spaniards had used a public telephone in the previous year and on average only one call a week is made from public phone boxes.