Please take and share this short survey on poetry, protest, Occupy & Gezi Park! You will be helping a Comparative Literature student at İstanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. Click the image below, or go to this link:
Author Archives: Michael
Do you remember the OWS Library books? What they looked like. How we labelled them. How they were organized? Perhaps you picked one up and saw that we had written “OWSL” across each side with a permanent marker. Perhaps you saw one with our stamp on it, or even a bookplate. Or maybe you were writing with that marker, or cataloguing them, or sorting them.
So, where are these books now? On November 15, 2011 under orders from then Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) dismantled and destroyed the People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street under the pretence of “cleaning” the park. Along with the kitchen, medical tent, residences of occupiers and more in Zucotti Park, all of the library’s books, zines, newspapers, media, computers, and other materials were thrown into trucks by sanitation workers and brought to a DSNY garage on 57th Street. Of the approximately 3,600 books seized that night, only 1,003 were recovered. Of that number, 201 were so damaged while in the possession of the City of New York that they were made unreadable. Thus, at least approximately 2,798 books were never returned or were damaged beyond repair.
But. Some books remain. Some were checked out and taken home, and passed around. Do you have one? I do. I have the first book ever entered into our catalogue. It was the book I chose to keep as a memory of our library. Here it is in our LibraryThing catalog, at the bottom of page 190. Hakim Bey’s “T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Autonomedia New Autonomy Series)”:
When TAZ was donated, I held onto it, keeping it close. For me it was a perfect book for our occupation, for our library – at least, for what I imagined both to be. We all had that one book, or books. Those certain books we loved, that we were surprised to see when they were donated – that we smiled at between the piles of romance novels, Bloomberg biographies, and other less-wanteds – those books that you just knew someone gave because it made so much sense for it to be in this library.
I’m writing about our books now, about what one of our librarians called the “dregs of the library” – what was left after the attack, what was salvageable, and unsalvageable. Do you have an OWS library book? Don’t worry, there is still no due date, we don’t want them back. We want them to keep living out there. But I would love to hear the story of your book, whether you were an occupier, a visitor, a volunteer, a working group member, a patron, anyone – tell me your People’s Library book stories. And share a photo if you can of your book(s).
Post in the comments, and email me your story, your photos, anything you’d like to share. I’ll post your stories here if you want that, so others can hear about where the books ended up, or not, it’s up to you.
The Dayton Project is an oral history project on Occupy created by Kyle Pitzer, a student in the public history program at Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio. you can follow his efforts to interview and transcribe and hopefully, he writes, turn some of that material into a radio story on his project blog here.
I wanted to share the project here because we often privilege the textual when thinking about libraries and information – but oral forms are important methods of building, sharing, and passing on knowledge, stories, history, and experience.
You can contact Kyle about the project here.
If CISPA becomes law, the government can spy on you without a warrant: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/02/cispa-government-access-loophole #StopCISPA
If CISPA becomes law, when the gov’t downloads your private information, you’ll never even know:http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2012/04/13/cispa-is-terrible-for-transparency/ #StopCISPA
If CISPA becomes law, it makes it so companies can’t be sued when they do illegal things with your data: https://www.eff.org/cybersecurity-bill-faq#company #StopCISPA
Annalisa Quinn at our beloved local NPR station WNYC mentions the city’s “almost apology…” read more…
Will Bunch on Philly.com sums it up perfectly in his headline “Books 1, Police State 0” and breaks it down nicely for the haters “Even if you totally disagreed with the Occupy Wall Street movement (as I’ve noticed from past comments that one or two of you might), you must agree that authorities destroying so many books was creepy and smacked of what happens in totalitarian states. This is a small measure of justice, and in 2013 America we’ll take any justice we can get.” read more…
Shawna Gillen blogging at Policymic.com grudgingly predicts a precedent has been set here: “While the NYPD and Brookfield had a strong case to justify taking control of the park, they certainly took a cop out strategy to avoid even more fees. If this case sets any sort of precedence, protestors will have more opportunities to win settlements from New York City.” read more…
Business Insider‘s Michael Kelley reports quite accurately on the raid and destruction of the library “Around 1 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2011, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to evict protestors — some of whom had camped there for almost two months — from Zuccotti Park in New York City’s Financial District. The police threw away 5,554 books from the Occupy library and destroyed media equipment in addition to removing tents, tarps, and belongings.”…and even better, Business Insider refers to the movement, quite correctly, in the present tense “Occupy Wall Street is a movement, beginning on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square, that protests the role of Wall Street in the 2007 financial crisis and aims to resist the influence of major banks and multinational corporations.” read more…