Daily Archives: October 10, 2011

The Nation visits The People’s Library

We were delighted to welcome Katrina vanden Heuvel, the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The Nation magazine, to The People’s Library today. For those who aren’t familiar with this publication, it is the longest running, continuously published weekly magazine in the United States, stretching back all the way to 1865, when it was founded as a vital instrument of the abolitionist movement. The magazine has what you might call a left/progressive slant, and they and their writers are passionate advocates of social justice. I myself have been a reader (and sometime subscriber) for years. In fact, I had emailed someone at The Nation over the weekend requesting speakers for a series of in-library talks I’d like to have, and the response was more than I anticipated. In addition to the visit today, Katrina plans to return and indeed possibly help arrange for some speakers. She seems very eager to help us, and I think we should embrace her support as the publisher of such a widely-read organ of progressive politics. Luckily, I recognized her when she came in: while standing up on the ledge to fix a sign, I looked down to see a familiar face. Her photo is published alongside her columns, and I’d seen her speak before, too. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement! Fortunately, she shares our spirit, and I think she was even more excited than us. When we mentioned that we need tarps, she seemed delighted by the prospect of having something else to offer! And, of course, she said she has a warm feeling for books—who can blame her?

More on this: I had imagined I might get us a subscription to The Nation for the library. Before I even had a chance, I received this email:

Hey Steven — Starting this Thursday — we’ll send a box of issues of The Nation (most recent, plus smattering of relevant back issues) down to the library each week. Would that be ok with you folks? How many is too much — I don’t want to create a burden for you guys.

I’ve been working with Babak and the teach out committee folks to bring Naomi and Barbara Eherenreich and others down to speak. But the smaller library meeting could work too. I’ll be in touch in case we arrange another field trip–which I imagine will happen soon/
Best and good luck,
Richard Kim
Executive Editor

I haven’t responded yet so others have a chance to chime in. I certainly think it would be great to have such a recognizable publication to hand out (legitimacy! legitimacy!), but I’ve been at the vanguard of paper-handling issues, so I recognize that others should have a chance to attenuate my enthusiasm.

Photos from Katrina’s visit below, including the page she autographed in her book, dedicated to the People’s Library and now in the newly constituted Reference section.


Filed under Announcements, Solidarity, Steve S.

Private Information, Policing and Social Media

This library is wired. We’re scanning bar codes to intake our books, we’re on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, LibraryThing and more. We’re blogging, we’re using our smart phones and laptops and WiFi hotspots. This movement is wired. We’re using YouTube, livestreams, global voice chat, IRC, projected General Assembly notes, vibe and more. The police are also wired.  Here’s an amazing example of police communicating with the occupation in Boston through Twitter.

In another example, the Portland Police Department put a call out for the Occupy Portland movement to post photos of their officers on their Facebook page. And after the march, the page was full of thank you notes about how respectful the officers were. Compare that to the reports of those arrested at Liberty Plaza for photographing police and drawing a line with chalk to help occupiers and protesters know where to keep the sidewalk clear. However, all of this communication and sharing is going on in primarily private, corporate spaces.

And at the same time all of this online information constitutes the history in progress of this movement against corporatization. This is one of the reasons that open source information is so important. If a company like Twitter or Facebook elected to remove this content, there’s nothing we could do about it – and a part of history, a conversation and a record of the movement would be lost. Alternatively, social media like Diaspora and identi.ca are open and users control their own content. But at the moment, the battles to lay claim to territory in the media space are taking place in the commercial regions of cyberspace, where there are more witnesses, where the reporters are likely to pay attention, where the public is engaged.

As a friend of mine posted to Facebook: “The irony of #OccupyWallStreet so far: The privatization of public space allows for the public protest of privatization.”


Filed under Cyberspace, Media, Privatization, Rob, Technology


The Village Voice blogs about the records in our collection. We have DVDs and CDs as well. What do you think, do you agree with their picks?

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Filed under Media, Music, Rob

OWS Journal (Issue #2)

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Filed under Media, OWS Journal, Rob

OWS Journal (Issue #1) en Español


Filed under Media, OWS Journal, Rob

Occupied Wall Street Journal (Issue #1)

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Filed under Media, OWS Journal, Rob

Technology Call to Arms

I’ve been talking to the awesome folks at 2600, and today they have put out a call for technology donations to our library. I’m really excited about this collaboration – if the occupation of Liberty Plaza is anything, it is first and foremost a hack.

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Filed under Hacking, Rob, Technology

Gabriella Csoszó

Hungarian artist Gabriella Csoszó has posted a series of photographs of the People’s Library on her blog Public Image. The photos reveal often overlooked layers of the processing of our books, the architecture of the spaces we’ve built to hold them, the ways the labels and systems are edited and re-edited as the collection changes and grows. There is a record here of the many voices speaking through the library, both those that are historical and those of our volunteers. And of the lightness and potential weight of these volumes carried by the expectations of big ideas.

Csoszó’s work “explores the historical traces of the cold war, including the documentation of locations that have been lost or have changed meaning and the photographic exposition of objects and public spaces that do not hold the same value in the present.” The artist is currently in residence at ISCP.


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Filed under Art, Photographs, Rob

The Relevancy of Relevance

As funds run thin, budgets tighten and governments focus on the immediacy of crisis, the conversation begins with regard to the relevance of our comforts, the needs of our people and the rights of luxury. Existing somewhere between what is requisite and what is desired, stands the topic of libraries. In her infancy, America was home to great men with the forethought and insight to protect the rights of citizens to know, to understand and to communicate their ideas freely. Archivists, historians and scholars came together under the umbrella of librarianship to record, conserve and protect our history, culture and knowledge; perhaps even our humanity. Libraries have served as a haven of academic pursuit, an access-point for the underprivileged, and the professionals thereof have valiantly defended against the encroachment of censorship and obfuscation. Somehow, despite the offerings of libraries to a free society, they have come under the scrutinizing eye of appraisal. Some would have you believe that libraries are beginning to decay and that funding their interests further is merely a drain on resources. Others would have you believe that the era of information has ushered in a time where the practice of librarianship is merely redundant, given the skills of a tech-savvy public. As such, the premise is that libraries have lost relevance and should be forgotten. Yet here we stand, on the dawn of revolution, where a brave and active some have taken charge on reform, come together as a united front and have moved to start anew. The 99% have collected under the sole governance of solidarity; in defense of comfort and need. Of interest is that, beyond the immediacy of what is requisite, the central desires of the people have coalesced and been made known. The uniting thread of dissatisfaction has given birth to a fresh emphasis on the right to knowledge, and the first institution of the people has been given form; The People’s Library. — What is to be said of relevance now?


Filed under Danny

OWSL now has its own lawyer!

A woman named Nicole stopped by the library last night and offered her legal services to us. She may be ideal for the job, since her regular job is as a criminal justice attorney for a non profit in New York. I was going to post her full details here, which she gave me permission to do, but I’ve decided to be discreet about that for the time being. Is there a way I can share such information with admins? Should I give Nicole’s email and phone number to other working group members at the library itself? Or just go ahead and post it in the spirit of free information? My only concern is for Nicole’s safety and privacy. We will, of course, make her part of the forthcoming phone tree.


Filed under Announcements, Steve S.

LibraryThing catalog for OWS Library now available


The RSS feed for recently added books doesn’t work, though, so I tried unsuccessfully to fix it (changing it to reviews instead didn’t help). Someone else on their help site complained about it not working in 2009, so perhaps it hasn’t ever been fixed.


Filed under Announcements, Steve S.