23 November 2014 update: When I started in at Texas A&M, it was just before the era that everybody had a mobile phone, so dorm phones were pretty common. Every dorm got a phone number, but the caller id service only provided phone numbers, not names. The university did provide a directory, but it only went from person to phone number, not the reverse.

Fortunately for me, it was an old mainframe system, so you could just go to ‘A’ and then iterate over it until you got the full directory. I used this to build a caller id system, but getting calls from call boxes still happened occasionally. I could have walked around and called all the boxes to get the numbers, but it was fun learning about how open records requests worked.

Ever get a random phone call on campus and can’t identify where it came from? If you think it’s a callbox, you can confirm it against caller ID by looking at this list: Emergency Phones.

How does one get such a list? The Texas Open Records Act. I can understand why the university might not want to turn it over, especially since the call boxes automatically answer when called. Anyhow, two attempts later (no numbers were produced on the first attempt because I needed to be more specific), I was given the list.