UPDATE: State of Seized Library

(This post is being updated as news comes in, check back regularly.)

We’re getting our first report back from the folks who went to the Sanitation Garage. Mayor Bloomberg’s office tweeted: “Property from #Zuccotti, incl #OWS library, safely stored @ 57th St Sanit Garage; can be picked up Weds” But it turns out, not surprisingly, that this was a lie. Our folks on the ground say:

“There are only about 25 boxes of books; many of the books are destroyed. Laptops here but destroyed. Can’t find tent or shelves.”

Update 11:00am

“Many books destroyed. Most equipment -and structures missing. . . most of library is missing (ALL of the reference section btw), damaged or destroyed. ”

Update 11:14am

One of our librarians Zach came up with a partial list of what was taken (see below) and it’s looking like only a few boxes of books and our (destroyed) laptops and one chair were at Sanitation. Our people on the ground report that “A lot is destroyed . . . more may (or may not) be coming out of their giant trashpile at back of building.” But it’s obvious to me that by recklessly throwing the contents of the park into dumpsters, the NYPD and DSNY working under Bloomberg’s orders destroyed what we built. And that their claim that the library was “safely stored” was a lie.

So Mayor Bloomberg: where is the People’s Library?

  • Between 2,000 and 4,000 books (we’ll know if it looks right when we see it ), this includes five boxes of “Reference” materials many of which were autographed by the authors;
  • Our custom made “OWS library stamps;”
  • 5 (4?) laptop computers;
  • Our wifi device;
  • miscellaneous paper supplies;
  • A round portable table;
  • a rectangular portable table;
  • 6 metal shelves (five of which had been set up in two pieces);
  • three sets of wooden drawers;
  • a periodicals spinning rack;
  • Approximately 60 plastic tubs/bins of varying sizes (most small, but several big);
  • archival materials (I was starting to collect some stuff in the library);
  • posters (including many original posters created by OWS participants);
  • two lamps;
  • four solar lights;
  • 7 (or so) chairs;
  • a wooden dinner table (that was our’s right?);
  • periodicals/newspapers/zines (not counted in our book total);
  • our awesome tent;
  • signage;
  • personal belongings of librarians;


Filed under Rob, Solidarity

132 responses to “UPDATE: State of Seized Library

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  17. Loki

    Random, but reading a bit of the comments and such I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that people who support OWS are some the fastest when it comes to insulting people when people don’t kowtow to their viewpoint immediately. If you want more people to think you’re for something good, it doesn’t really help to call others stupid, idiot, ignorant, sheep, corporate whores, etc. If anything, that’s probably the main thing that’s keeping many people from joining in on OWS or supporting them. There are too many who think so far highly of themselves and their cause, that they talk down to anyone who is neutral to keep peace for themselves, or want more proof other than “We say it’s so. SO YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!”.

    In words that would make more sense to OWS. the people you’re trying to influence are not sheep nor chattel. Insulting them as such and treating them like they’re unintelligent and ignorant just for not instantly believing you and following your lead is a surefire way for them to reject you and your cause. Secondly, again in OWS mentality, telling them that everything they listen to is a lie on the news and shouldn’t believe everything we read because its lies lies lies…unless you tell them it’s the truth =| That’s telling the people they should believe one biased side over the other instead of looking at both sides and looking for the truth in what’s goin on. That’s not research, that is not truth, that’s agenda seeking propaganda influencing. there’s multiple sides to every conflict: side A, side B, (C, D, etc), and the truth which is the first casualty of any conflict of powers. I prefer truth over the war mentality that OWS and similar anti-gov groups have made consisting mainly of “There is no neutral or peaceful side. If you’re not with us, you’re an enemy! And we’ll take you down with them!”, which makes them appear less understanding and more conflict causing and not very humanitarian than those they oppose.

    I’ve had a few friends try to influence me to take a side and not be neutral truth seeker when I become interested. Most of them tried sending me online news articles and youtube videos from dubious sites and youtube users bent on causing conflict over finding truth. Most of the articles quotes and videos were cut up and taken so madly out of context that they screamed at the very first paragraphs of being fake, unreliable, completely biased gibberish of real events that were being twisted into something unreal for purposes only to suit someones anti-gov agenda. I’ve never been the type to believe without proof, so I was able to prove them all to be fallacious within a matter of minutes with barely any searching…Obviously, those friends know I don’t trust anything they send me anymore since they I noticed they believe everything they read and don’t bother to research at all if it’s anything to do with anti-gov or OWS. I suggest that if you really want more members, tell the people to stop lying to make only yourselves look good. Stop insulting people for their different views or not following your beliefs on a matter. It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t take a side, a disagreement or neutral view doesn’t mean you throw civilized conversation out, and jump to being disrespectful and insulting. I won’t doubt there will probably be a few who insult me immediately after reading this lol Or they’ll take what I said in consideration and do so nicely…some may even pretend to be nice just to lure ME in and continue the same rude way they do with others. lmao paranoi *jitters* I’ll be among the insane in no time xD anywho gnight.

    • Joe Palooka

      Interesting post. Which government agency, or PR Agency, do you work for?

      “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!” ~ Samuel Adams

      • Anymoose

        Actually, I’m just a plain old person, but much of that makes sense. Just because I’m trying to figure this out slowly and look at both sides doesn’t make me bad. I’m just finding my own path. Isn’t that what you want?

        • Joe Palooka

          Alright, and after re-reading your post I think I better understand your point. And yes I do think people should exercise self determinism and rational thought. I do not expect people to believe something or take an action only because I argue from authority that it is the correct view.
          However, neutrality and skepticism can be a trap as well. Sometimes you have to take sides not because things are polarized but because it is the right path.

          “Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.”
          ~ Gautama Siddhartha — The Buddha

          I do not agree with hotheads who jump to conclusions and assume that because someone does not immediately accept that their position is the only right position and that therefore anyone who disagrees is evil. However, people can be passionate about the issues that they feel are vital or important. And the issues we now face are of vital importance to all mankind.

          While it may not be real to you yet what OWS and the Occupy movement in general is opposing is massive psychotic corruption. A level of corruption that makes a common stick-up artist look like a little bloodsucking gnat. The big banksters are seeking to establish a hegemony across the entire planet, and I realize that statement may not seem real to you but I would invite you to look for the background information and history of banking on this planet over the last several hundred years. What we are opposing IS a great evil which is beyond the mere thievery of vast sums which is the evidence of their intentions but look for the pattern and what that pattern is drawing towards. It is not merely money but control – absolute totalitarian control.

          We have massive financial fraud.

          The wholesale purchase of our Congress (and that is not overstatement – again you need to assign yourself some homework if you want to understand it.)

          We have wars to establish banker control. What was one of the first official actions of the NATO supported criminals in Libya? They established “The Central Bank of Libya”.

          I could spend hours just covering an outline of the background information. Not even the kids on the front lines have a full grasp, but they understand from the evidence of their eyes that something is wrong – very wrong and they have shown the guts to actually do something.

          The Spirit of ’76 Still lives in the hearts of all who would be free.

          In his tract “The American Crisis” the words of Thomas Paine have echoed down the corridors of time unto our present day, and they have come to truth again:

          THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. …

          And one more just because I love good quotes – they are condensed wisdom left us by the minds who have come and gone.

          “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” ~ Dante

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  22. Linda Kinsman-Saegert

    You need to use an attorney to draft a letter stating what is destroyed and missing with a dollar amt. Of each and present it in small claim’s court

  23. Conflicting reports: Did they actually burn any books? There is video of sanitation workers throwing books in trash cans? You know they sell all the stuff they sieze on some govt./police website. Please keep us informed:

    The VIBE app seems pretty underused up there in NYC………

  24. Well, that’s not big in my area. They’d rather tail someone to the library and steal their vehicle while they are making a drop off. They’ll dump that vehicle at a bank, then break into your neighbor’s vehicle and dump their ashtray on your water main.

    They prefer security over literature. It’s about sameness here, too.

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  28. Jacob

    I see a complete lack of strategic intelligence on the part of the protestors here. What is the necessity for continuing to return to Zuccotti Park? That is where you are expected. Outwit the police by continuously gathering in different places, which is easy to coordinate. There will always be infiltrators, but relocating anew can circumvent opposition to some degree. Announce false demonstrations to send the police to opposite locations. Etc. If you keep returning to the same places, you play into the hands of your oppressors. Exhaust them with ever greater cunning.

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  31. Judith A. McCarty

    I’m sure this observation is obvious. But it seems to me that historically, whenever a storming, conquering horde invade, they destroy the libraries. Notably because of what they represent, the quintessence of a society! And when we have looked back at these deeds, they represent the level of barbarianism of that invading horde. So Mayor Bloomberg, as the person heading the most recent conquering horde, you have gone down in history as a barbarian and subsequent history books will make note of it.

  32. DS

    interesting that you refuse to approve comments from any opposing viewpoint….that makes you no better than those you protest against.

  33. Pingback: UPDATE: State of Seized Library | #OccupyWallstreet | Scoop.it

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  38. z

    For a reason I can’t quite pin down, the destruction of the People’s Library resounds more deeply with me than any of the other abuses committed against the Occupy movement. Although I have not participated in any occupations myself, I have followed the movement closely online since its beginning, and have seen videos of police pepper-spraying women, beating students, and arresting bank customers. I am horrified by these things, and have come to realize that political repression and the suppression of free speech are not distant specters looming before us, but present realities we now face. Orwell’s nightmare has come true, and nothing illustrates it more starkly than the seizure and disposal of these books. For a social class whose holy writ is personal property rights, the one percent and their riot-geared minions have shamelessly shat on those of the Occupiers by stealing and destroying these books. I hope to see a lawsuit – this was armed robbery.

  39. Pingback: “Many of the books are destroyed,” librarians arrested, in Michael Bloomberg’s New York City (2 items) : 50491

  40. EL CID

    Why don’t you people create a colony in Africa where your ALL KNOWING MINDS, PRINCIPLES AND MORALS can make a difference for the BETTER! Instead of destroying your environs! WHAT A BUNCH OF LOSERS! ! !

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  44. CharliesBooksLIB

    I don’t think you understand the point of this Thinker. Thinker? Really? We as librarians don’t care about more or less if a book is one of a kind. We are here to protect the right that these books are available. Books mean more to us because we don’t promote censorship. Books, be them fiction, picture, how-to’s, non-fiction, and reference are our history as a society, as a world.

    Destroying a book that has a million copies around the world means just as much as a one of a kind book.

    And this library means more to this neighborhood because the items were donated. NYC libraries are highly underfunded. Yes it goes with the times. But we know when we’ve been wronged.

    And right now. Libraries everywhere are being undercut and cheated by their local gOvernments. OWS isn’t just just taking a stand for themselves. It’s really for all of us across the states.

    I thank you OWS LIBRARIANS, you’re stance means more to a Midwestern librarian than you know. Don’t give in until you find an answer to your missing books.

  45. I thought you’d want to be comfortable if you were gonna wage war on the Gotham City there. Here’s a link to a few of the luxuries others may deny you ‘peoples’ of: http://www.cabelas.com/showers-toilets-accessories.shtml

    I think the lid for the 5-gallon bucket would work great! Same difference and would leave more funds for securing your books-for the next catastrophe!

    the more Starbucks you drink, the more you’ll wizz!

  46. “these books were donated-used books with little to no value.”

    I am appalled that you would refer to books as having no value. It’s not about the monetary value of these items. It’s about the fact that they had no regard whatsoever for a vast collection of BOOKS. Books have inherent value because of what they are that goes far beyond the simplistic dollars and cents values we place upon the paper and ink they are printed on.

  47. Oh look a fire woman from Fahrenheit 451.

    Since it is unlikely you actually read books as you have no respect for them let me give you a reference to back that up:


    It’s people like you who cheered wildly with upraised arms when the Nazis burned books. Shame on you (non) thinker bell, deep shame!

  48. Kara Harkins

    Actually, some of those books were signed editions. Meaning they were not something you could just run down to a bookstore and replace.

    Oh, and you do realise ‘war room’ is just slang for a room you create plans in, right? It means as much as ‘czar’ as applied to officials in our current government, nothing changes, it is just a shorthand word to not have to use this long meaningless description each time you say it. When working on a team project we routinely called whatever room we did most of the work in ‘the war room’. If you were ever in a room with a whiteboard/paper/chalkboard it could have been called a war room by someone else. So tell us … why do you hate america?

  49. You have no idea what you are talking about re: this situation and it really, REALLY shows.

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  60. Bonnie

    Well, what do you expect of a billionaire like bloomberg? The higher they go up the lader, the less Soul & compassion they have!

    The coot would have all problems solved if he released to the Protesters, all the empty houses and lots in the city. There certainly are people fr all typs of profession among the Protesters: nurses, teachers, childcare, carpenters, builders, cooks, smiths, even lawyers. Or the People can learn trades.

    All that has to be done is say : Go to …and fix /repair these buildings and they’re yours!” Can you imagine the cut in criminal activities in the areas of the now empty buildings?!

    But that’s not the purpose of tptb, is it?

    Well, blessings to the Protesters, and may they prosper!

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  65. Send Mayor Bloomberg an invoice for the missing items.

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  68. Joe Palooka

    You need to have at least 2 copies of Ray Bradbury’s “Farenheit 451” in any new collection.
    Tyrants despise having an educated populace, and so despise books, because they wish to keep people ignorant and unaware of the tyranny under which they live.
    I think one of the MAJOR accomplishments of OWS so far has been to highlight the fact that we now live under a tyrannical and corrupt regime that is so distant from that conceived by the Founding Fathers as to be nearly unrecognizable in comparison to the original.

    “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” Dante

    “Truth will always be truth, regadless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance.”
    ~ W. Clement Stone

    “It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.” ~ Robert The Brus, Arbroath Abbey, April 6, 1320

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  71. Keep strong. The world is watching.

  72. shannon

    At least you all have what you acquired documented on LibraryThing. Use that as a checklist/proof of what is missing and demand that you get it back.

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  74. Librarians Unite!

    Thank you for your bravery and persistence. Librarians rock.

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  78. Jo

    I have some books that I would love to donate too but I am from Manila, Philippines so it might take a while and I’ll need a sure mailing address. If you have a mailing address though I’ll see how long it takes to ship stuff to you guys :) I’d love to help.

  79. Catbus

    You have grounds for a Fifth Amendment lawsuit here, as your property was seized and either damaged or destroyed without due process of law.

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  82. Apostulous

    *Posted this with link to HHMI, still awaiting moderation; this is same post w/o link*

    While my personal library is rather small, I do have some volumes I can send from it, and I’m more than willing to go down today to my local book stores [they are becoming an endangered species] and buy some reading material to help a library in need. Another source you may try is the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. They have scientific periodicals available for free, and its a subscription I highly recommend.

  83. Ze Fenske

    Please, please, please file a lawsuit. It sounds like you folk are organized enough for it to work beautifully.

    And this blog is awesome!

    And yes, what is the story behind the Torah?

  84. Pingback: Writers, librarians react to OWS Free Library Seizure - PageViews

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  87. joe

    the archival materials are a particular shame. Although this would need to come up at a GA, might I suggest that things such as historical materials be stored in safe places (i.e. homes of occupy supporters who live in NY) so that this doesn’t happen again?

    • Michael

      We agree – archive materials are kept off-site, but during the day we have collection boxes on site – because the destruction of the library came without warning, we weren’t able to get this stuff out. There is also an Archives working group who is coordinating all of this, reach out to them if you’re interested in getting involved: http://www.nycga.net/groups/the-occupy-wallstreet-archives/

      • DS

        Not sure what you mean by “without warning” you know the police would not take care of your stuff…and there was advance notice that they would be clearing out the park…

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  90. Oh sorry I think my comment vanished, I am so saddened that something so amazing was so mistreated, books are so important and the People’s Library was beautiful, I have blogged asking people to send you more books, please let me know if that is okay or there is more I can do, blog is,http://watergatesummer.blogspot.com/, and I am @watergatesummer on twitter.

  91. Apostulous

    While my personal library is rather small, I do have some volumes I can send from it, and I’m more than willing to go down today to my local book stores [they are becoming an endangered species] and buy some reading material to help a library in need. Another source you may try is the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, http://www.HHMI.org They have scientific periodicals available for free, and its a subscription I highly recommend.

  92. I am so so sorry that this happened, I am encouraging folks to give books and send them, I hope that is okay. I am so saddened ….I have been posting and blogging about it and tweeting about it for folks to give, my blog is, Watergate Summer, if it is not okay to send books, please let me know or anything else I can do, http://watergatesummer.blogspot.com/,

  93. Hi guys, I was with you a fortnight ago and helped with the shelving a cataloguing. I’ve emailed Bill individually, but just want to say that the world was watching and every decent-minded (and some not so decent) person with whom I have spoken, face-to-face or electronically, shares my utter contempt and disgust at what has happened. Keep on keeping strong comrades. I guess there’s not much I can do to help now I am back in the UK, but let me know if there is. Love to all.

  94. Kara Spengler

    Is there a list of what is missing somewhere? If there is, I would be willing to wager people will replace anything missing within days.

  95. Pingback: Occupy Wall Street Library Recovery Reports - GalleyCat

  96. Did you recover 25 boxes of books or a few boxes of books? (“There are only about 25 boxes of books;” “only a few boxes of books.”)

    • Mandy Henk

      25 boxes of books, not in great shape. And no where near our full collection.

    • Michael

      Hi Eric – I can see where this would be confusing, but 25 boxes is only a few boxes for us – considering we had over 5,000 books in the collection. It’s few relative, not absolute few as in 3-5.

  97. I hate that more than anything – SUNY Binghamton did something similar with their “stack” sections about a decade or so ago. A lawyer complained I was citing “old cases” and suddenly the stack section disappeared

  98. God, it’s enough to make you weep…Terrible.
    Take over the NYC Library. There’s a nice piece of grass out back isn’t there ?
    All the best. ~CD http://tinyurl.com/ccalqfx

    • j

      That would be Bryant Park, née Needle Park, one of the first spaces in the city to go public/private. Occupying this park would definitely be the quickest way to get beaten by cops and whatever crazy robocop police force the Bryant Park Corporation (actual name) has on call.

    • Actually, occupy the NYU library, which is so elitist that it will not allow even CUNY faculty into their hallowed halls.

  99. this is freedom? destroy books and beat people?

    • Steve I.

      Yeah, so why did US/coalition forces help the revolution in Libya? According to Bloomberg they were “free” under the Qadaff regimei.

  100. “This is both totally insane and completely unsurprising.” — I agree 100% Indigo… When I first heard that the books were safe I was so thrilled. Why am I not surprised that this turned out to be largely false. The disregard for culture and intellect seems to be a common thread running through this country right now. A very scary trend.

  101. This is devastating and sad. I’m so glad you are rebuilding!

  102. Laptops are here, but smashed. 4 of them.

    • DudJar

      As long as the Hard Drives are intact you can recover the data….

      • mungo

        Id be willing to bet that the hard drives on the “smashed” laptops are missing and are being sifted through by the appropriate authorities for peoples names and addresses.

  103. realsupergirl

    Michael, are you planning on filing a lawsuit? There should be plenty of evidence of the belongings being there before the raid, it seems like a case just begging to be prosecuted.

  104. Where and when can we bring more books to donate to help replace the missing items?

  105. Pingback: Silence in the Library | Full Stop

  106. Indigo

    This is both totally insane and completely unsurprising.

    Could you guys use book donations as you rebuild? Would it be helpful to send books to the Fulton St. mailing address, or would that be overwhelming / present logistical challenges? I have plenty of books (both on-topic and just for fun) and can’t think of a better home for them than this. Just let us know how we can help!

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