Irony of What Bloomberg’s Done, Threw out Fahrenheit 451

Reference book destroyed by Bloomberg and Bloomberg at NYPL gala.

On Monday, November 7, 2011 Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in attendance at one of New York City’s top cultural and social events: The New York Public Library’s Library Lions gala. The individuals honored as Library Lions are, according to, “distinguished individuals who have made significant cultural and educational achievements to increase our understanding of the world around us.” The 2011 honorees included such literary luminaries as Tony Kushner, Isabel Wilkerson, Jonathan Franzen, Stacy Schiff, Ian McEwan, and the songwriter Natalie Merchant.

Destroyed book & Bloomberg with Diana Taylor (Brookfield board of directors) at NYPL gala.

On Monday, November 15, 2011 the books of many of those Library Lions mingled with broken shelves, ripped tents, and smashed computers in the aftermath of the raid on Zuccotti Park. The raid, authorized by Mayor Bloomberg, saw, among other things, the OWS People’s Library thrown in the trash. Perhaps, as Mayor Bloomberg enjoyed the library festivities on the 7th he was already planning the action that would destroy a different library on the 15th, or perhaps he was just enjoying the photo opportunity as he exchanged pleasantries with the authors who he held in high enough esteem as to have their works tossed into garbage trucks.

Collage by People's Library: Bloomberg with books destroyed by his raid.

If it was Mayor Bloomberg’s desire to check out a copy of his book Bloomberg by Bloomberg, from the People’s Library, then it was his right to do so, and if he wanted to read Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom he could have borrowed a copy of that as well. Yet, checking out thousands of books at once was highly inconsiderate, and his treatment of these materials is unacceptable. The librarians specifically ask patrons not to check out reference materials so that they may be used by others, not to damage archival material, and not to destroy a place where one and all can come and find books on a range of subjects from classics to economics to children’s books. Mayor Bloomberg has expressed that he intends to return the People’s Library to the people, but based on what we have seen so far, as we have attempted to retrieve the library, we fear that Mayor Bloomberg is setting himself up for some serious overdue and replacement fees. Mayor Bloomberg’s decision, that led to the destruction of the People’s Library, is an act unbecoming of any citizen in a democracy, and is even less appropriate for an individual holding public office. Some may suggest that the People’s Library, as with other groups in Zuccotti park, was given a warning by the police before they began their raid, but the idea that removing thousands of books (not to mention other materials) can be accomplished quickly, after 1 a.m., with the trains frozen, and with routes in and out filled with police officers making arrests, is plainly absurd.

Library books destroyed by Mayor Bloomberg, the NYPD and the DSNY.

Not long ago people across the country were in an uproar over a man’s attempt to burn a holy book, but Mayor Bloomberg tossed dozens of holy books into dumpsters on the 15th. Now that roaring is coming from the lions, Patience and Fortitude, who guard the entry to the very library where Mayor Bloomberg cavorted on the 7th. The 99% have shown tremendous patience and fortitude as individuals such as Mayor Bloomberg have used their money to exert an undemocratic influence over our politics and lives, but we sit idly no longer.

Another book destroyed by Bloomberg's raid and Bloomberg addressing NYPL gala.

Mayor Bloomberg clearly prides himself on his deeds and actions as a philanthropist, and it is likely that he had a lovely evening on November 7 at the event honoring the Library Lions. Yet his actions on November 15 make clear that when it comes to supporting the democratic ideals behind libraries, Bloomberg is just lying.

– The People’s Library Working Group


Filed under Solidarity

28 responses to “Irony of What Bloomberg’s Done, Threw out Fahrenheit 451

  1. Pingback: ‘You can’t evict an idea whose time has come!’: The Occupy movement defies police state attacks | Work of the Negative: A Marxist-Humanist blog

  2. I visited the OWS library on the 31st, and slept among its books. I loved that library, it was incredible. Is there no way to get the books back?

  3. There’s such a sad irony to so much in this post, particularly the kinds of books that were destroyed in the way that they were destroyed.

    But I think, or at least hope, that some books can still offer us inspiration. Like Bartleby, for instance:

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  6. Hey kids! Remember that destroying the books was a public service. Teach people to read and the next thing you know, they are going to want to vote! Then where would we be?

    Help keep Oilmerika free from dangerous, seditious activities such as conscious thought – burn a book today!

  7. detroy the books is worse than barbarism is to destroy the freedom of thought…

  8. Michael Zamora

    one question. Is there any legal action against Mayor Bloomberg, for the destruction of said articles?……anyone in legal?

  9. Pingback: Irony of What Bloomberg’s Done, Threw out Fahrenheit 451 | Activism Corner |

  10. As a writer and as a human being… I am appalled. For this alone there should be an accounting (never mind all the other offenses committed on the occasion of this particular wanton act of destruction of which we speak). And the fact of his yakking it up with “literary lions” while coldly destroying everything that makes them what they are… that is just… inconceivable. And yes, for the Princess Bride fans out there, I DO know what the word means…

  11. Pingback: | Scumbag Bloomberg | Expect So Much |

  12. We all need to come together and make a national stink about this. We must destroy any chance Bloomberg might have of running for President. Librarians, professors, poets, and writers: get to work shaming this library destroying dictator on every social media site you can. I suggest we all rally around a hasthag on Twitter. #RESIGNBloomberg or #SHAMEBloomberg .. just throwing out idea. Please Tweet @CharlesBivona to discuss this more. I’m 100% outraged and ready to fight back. Are you? Tweet me. Thanks.

  13. Pingback: Irony of What Bloomberg's Done, Threw … – Occupy Wall Street Library | Occupy Wall Street Info

  14. Carla

    It takes a cold heartless person to destroy books. Even if someone instructed me to do it, I would not. I would take them, store them and return them to the owners. In Nashville, the officers threw away the bookcase but left the books. Bloomberg should pay for all the books that were destroyed out of his own pocket.

  15. Pingback: Irony of What Bloomberg's Done, Threw … – Occupy Wall Street Library | Occupy Wall Street

  16. Sharon

    if a person can’t leave when they’re asked. Sorry, I’m unsympathetic

  17. I’m a school librarian. I was excited to see how valued the library tent was as it was one of the largest tents in the park. I’m deeply saddened by how that collection was treated.

  18. Pingback: Bloomberg’s Method « The Wet Info Track

  19. Librarians Unite!

    Yes, though I usually eschew overdue fines, in this case I believe they are appropriate. I am afraid that even our kindergarten children are better stewards of library materials. Shame.

  20. bev

    Excellent post. (But “thrown” in the title would pick up the sound of “irony”, “done”, and “one” nicely… although “threw” prevents overkill. Sorry, compulsive editing disorder).

    Book abuse anywhere is book abuse everywhere.
    Solidarity from quasi-rural America.

  21. The irony in this piece says it all. Well written. As you have all the books cataloged, I think a bill for the replacement value of all the books destroyed, plus the equipment should be sent to the Mayor along with copies of this post, and the pictures of him of thus event. Sent it out to all the media also. The level of hypocrisy is stomach turning.

  22. SHAME OF NEW YORK – If a person can’t respect something as simple as a book, what makes you think he can respect a person, or anything for that matter!

    • Tim Price

      Bringing a book to a park may result in the book getting wet.

      • Michael

        Hi Tim, You might think so – but we had a series of 70+ waterproof boxes, organized by category and numbered in which we stored all the books. They were also under a tent. If you aren’t familiar with the infrastructure of the library, have a look at our flickr pool for images: You can also find in all the major media coverage pretty accurate descriptions of the complex and thorough infrastructure we had in place.

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