Retiring librarian donates red phone box to MSUB library

2010-06-30T17:02:00Z 2010-07-01T06:05:59Z Retiring librarian donates red phone box to MSUB libraryROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
June 30, 2010 5:02 pm  • 

The red British phone box practically glows in the dusky indoor illumination of Montana State University Billings library’s south wall.

“This is a little more fun than giving to the endowment,” said Jane Howell, retiring director of MSUB’s library system.

Howell bought the phone box at Christmastime from a Billings Army-Navy surplus store and donated it to the university as a memento of her four decades at the library. Howell was born in England and moved to the United States in 1968.

“It’s a fitting tribute,” said Brent Roberts, who takes over for Howell today in the library.

Howell was a little more candid.

“I thought it was an interesting way to remember the funny English lady,” she said.

Howell is well known to students, staff and members of the Billings community as “that British lady” or “that British librarian,” Roberts said. He said the phone box is the perfect complement to the library following Howell’s retirement.

The idea was sparked last Christmas when Howell saw an ad from the Army-Navy surplus store touting the authentic British phone box. She put in a call, paid $3,000 and by April the kiosk had arrived.

“It was worn,” she said. “The paint was chipped.”

In the end, she paid a few more thousand dollars to have it restored and delivered to the library — a feat in itself. The box weighs more than 2,000 pounds. The kiosk has been wired again for electricity, so the frosted glass panel near the top that reads “telephone” glows yellow. The university will install a working phone so the box can actually be used for making calls.

Roberts did some research. The phone box is a K6 “Jubilee” model, meaning it was constructed sometime between the late 1930s and early 1960s, when the boxes were at the height of their popularity.

Howell has donated to the university’s endowment for years, she said.

“I’ve always believed in giving back,” she said.

But with her departure from MSUB, she wanted to do something different, something a little more special, she said. When she saw the ad for the kiosk, she knew she had found her answer.

“I think it will last longer than I will.”

 

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

 

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Comment policy

We provide this forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the day's news. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and abuse are not. You must be logged into a personal account on Facebook to comment (FAQ). Readers are responsible for their comments and abuse of this privilege will not be tolerated. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate our Terms of Service. Comments reflect the opinions of the author - not those of The Billings Gazette or its parent company.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

More from the Gazette

Lowell Observatory astronomer is 'STEM Star' at science expo for girls

Lowell Observatory astronomer is 'STEM Star' at science expo for girls

April 23, 2015 9:51 am(0)
SD2 board extends Bouck's contract by 1 year

SD2 board extends Bouck's contract by 1 year

April 20, 2015 9:55 pm(4)
Over 100 teachers surprised with mini-grants

Over 100 teachers surprised with mini-grants

April 17, 2015 6:00 pm Photos

Photos

(1)
West High biology students join in search for bacteriophages

West High biology students join in search for bacteriophages

April 08, 2015 8:30 pm Photos

Photos

(0)

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Featured Businesses