Daily Archives: October 19, 2011
Mickey Z and Johanna Lawrenson (Abbie Hoffman’s widow) stopped by the library yesterday. Jesse Jackson also passed through.
People’s Library at Zuccotti Square – Occupy Wall Street
Hi, People’s Library!
Cheers from the public library of the Spanish revolution occupation at Madrid!
We are the Acampada Sol Library, the library that was formed during the May 2011 occupation of Puerta del Sol Square here in Madrid, Spain. We have been following OWS from the very first day. Let’s say we’re glad to see you found out how to organize yourselves up in almost the same way we did while we camped at the city hall square in Puerta del Sol. What we saw in the pics of OWS was quite impressive, but you can’t imagine how surprised we were when we learned that OWS also has a library. It may sound stupid but when we found that out, we celebrated it as the birth of a new one in the family.
Why? Well, it´s difficult to explain, but during the nearly seven weeks we lived there, hearing rain fall on the plastic sheet that barely covered our books (but not us), we had a lot of time to think about what we were going through. The media described us as bums, and the government as the most dangerous kind of terrorists (the pacifist kind). We slept always waiting for the final police riot that would tear everything down. We had time for joy, and also for despair. We never knew what we were doing, we only knew that it was right. People said it was useless to demand a U-turn in local politics in a country with a globalized economy. We replied that if so, then we expected to make our demands go global. They said it was a childish dream and they laughed…
We only want to thank all of you for being there. You may not realize it, but you’re making our dream come true. Obviously, doing the right thing, far from being a utopia or related to culture, is a matter of common sense.
We should say that none of us decided to open up a library during our occupation, it appeared by itself. People who came to support us wanted us to have some of their books; they wanted us to read and take care of them. We started out with only forty titles. People came by to rest from the everyday routine, trying to find shelter in the written word under our blue tent. Poets showed up to read them their works and free thinkers their essays. Authors showed up to dedicate their recent publications to us. Unknown writers from everywhere found inspiration in what they saw at the occupation, and brought us their thoughts on paper, asking us to publish them, and we did so. The manager of one of the major corporate libraries in town gave us book-carts and everything we needed. “Just don’t tell anyone” he asked. One donation came after another and in a few weeks we reached nearly four thousand titles at our outdoor library.
A funny heritage to have considering that from one minute to the next, we were waiting to be bludgeoned and evicted. Happily, the police didn’t have the chance to destroy our library as some of their predecessors accomplished two thousand years ago in Alexandria (though they wouldn’t have minded, I’m sure). This time the classics were moved to a safe place.
As a strategy, the occupation ended on June 12th. We found a new shelter for our creatures at a squatted social centre where we have our spot. And actually we are working to give people what government cannot, a free-of-charge public library. We expect our opening within a month or so.
We would love to hear from you and to know how all of you guys are doing, and we hope you’ll find inspiration in our little story, to realize that you are not alone in this.
The inquiry regarding our reason for being comes often. It seems to baffle some, and inspire others, but our reason for being is simple: provide access to information. In a time where authority is brought into question, and the defining people of a populace rise with the tide of their collective dissatisfaction, there is no moment more opportune to provide for the information needs of a citizenry that hungers for answers, alternatives and understanding. It is here that a library comes into her own as a beacon of freedom and intellect, and it is here that The People’s Library finds definition.
The sentiment of those occupying is that we are the victims of unfairness, unconscionable decision-making and the gnawing disease of uncertainty; all of which are avoidable and unnecessary. However, the cries of the brave have gone largely disregarded due to a perceived lack of coherent demand and plan of action. In answer to this, The People’s Library has deemed it a mission to afford every person the literacy, insight and education to articulate their criticisms, to meet inquisition with a knowledgable sense of what is just, and to empower every person with the tools necessary to exercise their human right to know.
Now, more than ever, libraries of every kind must rise to the occasion of an inspired reader-base and make provisions for even the most insatiable minds. If nothing, what has been demonstrated by the movement of occupiers all over the world is that information, transparency and the ability to be a part of the greater conversation is tantamount to citizenship in the global community. What is being presented is the opportunity for a renaissance in social consciousness, and librarians are on the forefront of that potential.
Is it possible that a new world may begin at the library?