What is the Phonar Nation Book-in-a-Box?

The Phonar Nation Book-in-a-Box is a book exchange project in which libraries receive a photo book a week, create a response around it, and pass it along to a youth group at another participating library location in the United States.

During the summer of 2014, select libraries are being invited to participate as we roll out the Phonar Nation class. We are inviting libraries in each of these cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. Libraries don’t need to offer the Phonar Nation course, but can point to the class for further enrichment.

How do the librarians use the Book-in-a-Box?

The most integrated way of providing instruction around the box is to promote the Phonar Nation online class. Youth can use the Box of Books activity as an entry point to earn any of the 20 badges offered through Phonar Nation. We will offer weekly support and tips on how to use the box.

How do youth participate?

We are providing a hand-made journal for responses and we encourage your library to be creative with the contributions from your youth group. The youth from your library will be showcasing and sharing their work with other youth in the Phonar Book-in-a-Box project as well as with the world. The boxes will return to the International Center of Photography where the different page spreads will be photographed and Phonar Nation will feature an online exhibition of the best work. We will include a study guide and will provide inspiration every week through Phonar Nation.

Can my library/youth organization/school participate even though I am not in one of the Cities of Learning?

Yes, but only virtually this year. Please request the photo books from your local library, many of them are also available via video (see list below) and follow the conversation #PhonarNation. Be on the look-out for a sign-up form for the 2015 Phonar Nation Book-in-a-Box at the end of summer.

What book titles are featured in the Book-in-a-Box and who selected them?

Phonar Nation worked in partnership with the International Center of Photography (ICP) to curate ten titles for audiences ranging from about 9 years of age to adults. We thank Deirdre E. Donohue, the Stephanie Shuman Librarian at ICP for her assistance.

The 2014 Phonar Nation Book-in-a-Box Photo Books


Bangert, Christoph. Iraq: The Space Between. Brooklyn, NY: PowerHouse Books, 2007.

(Video: )

Dayanita Singh. Privacy; Home Is a Place-. Göttingen : Steidl ; London : Thames & Hudson, 2004.

(No video available)

Dekens, Peter. Touch. [Breda, Netherlands]: The Eriskay Connection, 2012.


Hirasawa, Kenji. Celebrity. [London]: Bemojake, 2011.


Kawauchi, Rinko. Illuminance. New York, N.Y.: Aperture, 2011.


Mortensen, Viggo. 45301. Santa Monica, CA: Perceval Press, 2003.

(No video available)

Sanguinetti, Alessandra. The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams. Portland, Or.: Nazraeli Press in association with Yossi Milo Gallery, 2010. their-dreams/oclc/650784978


Sidibé, Malick. La Vie En Rose. Milano: Silvana, 2010.

(No video available)

Sternfeld, Joel. On This Site. Göttingen: Steidl, 2012.

(Video: )

Wenders, Wim. Once: Pictures and Stories. New York, NY : D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers ; Munich : In Association with Schirmer/Mosel, 2001.

(No video available)

What age group are the books intended for?

The books were selected for a very broad family audience. The study guide questions were crafted with 12-18 year olds in mind.

What is in the box?

This year, there is one photo book in each box, as well as one hand-made journal inspired by the book, and a general study guide.

What is the travel schedule and path?

Ten books will begin the U.S. journey for ten weeks, starting June 23, 2014 from the International Center of Photography.

What is the delivery and pick up method?

The books will ship from ICP on Monday June 23, 2014. The participating libraries will receive a welcome packet with instructions on how to use the components in the box, postage, and a schedule. The libraries will need to pick up a USPS flat rate box from their local post office location in order to ship the box to the next location.

How long will the box be in any given library?

This summer, the books can only stay at the library a short amount of time (about a 5 days).