Daily Archives: October 2, 2011

Working the Reference Desk

Let’s get one thing out of the way. I’m not a Librarian. Being a Librarian requires years of study and training and experience and education. We’re so lucky to have our founder Betsy who is a Librarian, and for the amazing work of Mandy, also a Librarian, who drove all the way from Indiana today with her husband to help out and is continuing to work with us.

But, when I spend a day sitting at the library with my name-tag on, helping our patrons and brothers and sisters in the movement and get so many questions from people I start to know what it must feel like to be a Librarian. Questions about everything. So, even those of us who aren’t librarians, but are working at the library have to learn to think like we’re sitting at the reference desk. And this is not the usual reference desk. Sometimes we’re working in the rain, sitting in a puddle, while being interviewed by a German reporter who got off the plane an hour ago, and talked at by a gentleman who insists one can stop the rain if you just point your finger at the sky and say firmly “dissipate!” all while a pigeon is poking around next to you and someone walks up and says:

“Where is the poetry meeting?” – “Do you have any of the Wall Street Journal Occupation paper?” – “Can I buy this book?” – “What’s the march route?” – “Where is the bathroom?” – “When is Radiohead getting here?” – “I read there isn’t really a point here, what is this protest about anyway…?”

It’s that last one that can be the hardest to answer. Well, yes – of course there is a point to the protest, to the movement, to the activism. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re doing this. And so in my temporary capacity as an ad-hoc reference librarian, I’m pleased to post a link here to the official “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City“.

So, have a look at that, and then hear what I have to say about it and tell me what you think, tell me why you’re here. And ask someone else, ask someone at the kitchen as they hand you warm food (so grateful for the excellent burrito tonight!). Ask someone in the sanitation group who is changing out a trash can or sweeping up. Ask someone who is sleeping in the park. Ask someone who just walked out of the 77th precinct in Brooklyn after being arrested on the bridge today. Sure, the Occupy Wall Street movement is non-hierarchical, and what I say about it might totally conflict with what someone else says about it. But that’s ok. In fact, it’s not only ok – it’s by design. That’s what makes it participatory, that’s how it’s built from the ground up, that’s how we are building a community, a cause, a consciousness, that’s how we’re building a movement – we’re doing it together.


Filed under Reference, Rob


Welcome to the blog for the library of the Occupy Wall Street movement – The People’s Library. We’re just getting this site up and running, if you’d like to join the effort, you can help by donating books, joining us at Liberty Plaza, volunteering to work shifts at the library or whatever you would like to contribute. Just let us know.


Filed under Announcements, Rob