I’m thrilled that the New York Times covered the opening of #OccupyBoston’s library. It’s an important story, worth being written about – in fact we wrote about it back when it happened. What I can’t figure out is how the New York Times has managed to do such an amazing job of dismissing the occupation of Liberty Plaza right here in their own back yard?
From the start, their first coverage of #OccupyWallStreet was dismissive, historically ignorant, shallow, pompous and to borrow a phrase from the Portland Mercury describing the same writers’ work on another story: “awesomely out-of-touch.”
And now, they have actually printed a claim that our library is disorganized. We stand in complete solidarity with #OccupyBoston and their library, we love them – they’re family. But that claim is just silly, and the Times has a responsibility to look into claims like that and offer their own reporting before they print misinformation. Here are some facts to help them out.
Here at The People’s Library, we have over 2,000 books. The majority of which are out in the stacks. And all of them are organized by categories such as: Labor, Finance, International Relations, Anthropology, Political Science, Philosophy, Economics, Human Rights, Activism, Religion, Queer Theory, Graphic Novels, Children’s, CDs/DVDs, Anarchist Zines, and more.
Some books are still in our storage unit awaiting the intake process, as we’re receiving donations from individuals and massive shipments from publishers all over the country. Yes intake process. This is because we have an online catalog, and we scan the barcodes of every book we receive, or add the ISBN to a list, or photograph the cover and enter them into a database to produce a historical record of what we’ve been given. That incoming list runs as a feed on our blog, on the sidebar.
We also photograph and document all books donated by authors and their families, and photograph the inscriptions along with images of the daily life of the library, which we upload here. We have reached out to the libraries forming around the country at other occupation sites and have even sent boxes of books to several to help them build their collections.
Since the early days we’ve been setting aside one copy of every zine, pamphlet or artist’s-style edition we receive for archiving – and we’re continuing to host collection boxes for the broader #OccupyWallStreet archives project. We host the Occupy Wall Street Poetry group, and our staff are publishing anthologies of their poetry. Now, we have had to struggle with two impedements to structural development, the NYPD says we aren’t allowed to have “tents” or “structures” so we’ve improvised, and it’s pretty clear our hardworking volunteers have done a damn fine job.
Our work at the library has been covered by American Libraries (the Magazine of the ALA), School Library Journal, the London Review of Books,The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many mainstream media outlets, blogs and sites including local papers like the New York Daily News.
We have a reference desk, and laptops and wireless internet for patrons and we’re expanding every day. We host author readings regularly, and if you come browse our stacks there’s a good chance you’ll run into one of them. But somehow, the New York Times didn’t notice – and our hometown paper went all the way to Boston instead for a story about OccupyLibraries. Maybe they still feel guilty about dismissing the movement and failing to cover it for weeks, and were too ashamed to come by. That’s understandable. So now I just want to say: New York Times, it’s OK, we can forgive you.
Here are driving directions, but I suggest you take the A,C,E from Port Authority or the 1,2,3 from Times Square. Come on down to the “beyond” sometime and say hi. I think you’ll like us.