Author Archives: sjsyrek

About sjsyrek

High functioning, mostly functional programmer.

Guest Speakers at The People’s Library

Our Guest Announcement Board

The People’s Library at Occupy Wall Street has been fortunate to host a number of special guest speakers in recent days including Carl Mayer, Jonathan Lethem, Lynn Nottage, Jennifer Egan, and Douglas Rushkoff. Upcoming are Michael Zweig and Daniel Pinchbeck.

And one more photo of our lovely (Canadian!) librarians with the lovely and Canadian Naomi Klein, at the first Spokes Council:

Laura, Naomi, Naomi's husband Avi Lewis, and Sean


Filed under Announcements, Photographs, Steve S.

Photos from Occupy Providence and Occupy Boston

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Filed under #OccupyBoston, Photographs, Steve S.

Video of Douglass Rushkoff’s Speech at the People’s Library on November 9th


Filed under Steve S., Video

Transcript of Jonathan Lethem’s Speech at the People’s Library on November 7th

This is a lucky day for me, to stand before you.I wish I could offer something in returnFor what you’ve given me:

The hope I thought I’d spent three years ago.

You great human specimens

Who offer your nights and days to the Occupation

Who offer yourselves as a lens on the world.

A vision of changing our lives,

To reflect our passion for justice,

For community and for connection,

Outside what’s permissible under the corporate regime

Which now passes for our republic

And still goes by its great name:

The United States of America.

You, here, on the Barricades of the Now

I wonder where you find the strength

To stand and stare, and endure the gaze

Of those who haven’t heard the call.

My thoughts turn to the middle-men

Whose incomprehension and scorn

Stands between you and the new world

On which you’ve settled your gaze.

The police, yes, and the traders

The wannabe moguls, the eager drones.

The newscasters and commentators

With their weary condescension.

Tribes that insulate the status quo,

That bad dream, which they too, suffer

And who stultify your dream of another world.

The only analogy I can offer

Is that of the service call.

We’ve all made such calls

To some bank or agency or institution

Some monolith which typifies

The drab abuse of routine power.

Precisely those whose inspire your resistance here.

Think of those you encounter on such a call

How they speak as if the rules that bind them

On the wrong side of the human story,

Were laws as natural as gravity.

As if the curbs on their humanity, and yours,

Were common sense, were right as rain.

How I wish, at those times, in my weakness

I could climb through the phone,

And commence my career as a strangler!

And so I imagine how you must feel

Looking into those faces.

Your grace, your restraint, is astounding.

God bless you for that.

For it’s never worthwhile to heap abuse

On those who perpetuate the lies

When you know they’re lied to as well.

Even those who sneer or berate,

They’re one of you, one of us,

Just not willing, not yet, not quite,

To try on the glasses, to look through the lens.

Not yet conscious of the possibilities

That lay within your steady gaze.

So they react in defense

Of the only world they know,

And against fear of what’s unknown.

What’s best to do, on a call like that?

Best is to summon these words:

“I’d like to speak to your supervisor.”

And then, usually, to say it again,

When the so-called supervisor appears,

“Now your supervisor, please.”

And so on, up the line.

That’s what this Occupation is:

The greatest collective service call ever made.

The ones you want to speak with

Are those who enact the structures

Within which the operators serve,

The real architects of the status quo.

The muckety-mucks, not those

On who they dump their muck

Nor even those who dump on their behalf.

I’d like to speak to your supervisor, please.

A graceful question, and peaceful too.

I’d like to speak to your supervisor, please.

Until you get to the top of the scheme,

The secret room at the summit of the tower.

How simple, really.

We all know who they are,

The supervisors with whom we wish to speak.

Their name crawl across our televisions,

Are etched on the plastic in our wallets,

And on our stadiums and concert halls.

They’re the ones avoiding your call,

And they’re the ones you want to speak with.

For if corporations are persons now,

Let them and their masters be called to account

Within the human community,

Let them answer to We, The People,

On this vast person-to-person call.

The phone’s ringing now.

You’re about to get through.

So go to the top.

Don’t settle, my friends, don’t settle for anything less.


Filed under Announcements, Steve S.

Jonathan Lethem (11/7) and Douglas Rushkoff (11/9) to visit the People’s Library!

Please join us to greet Jonathan Lethem with special guest Lynn Nottage on Monday, November 7th at 3:30 pm at the People’s Library and Douglas Rushkoff on Wednesday, November 9th at 12:00 pm.

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New York Review of Books piece on Occupy Wall Street


Filed under Steve S.

More visitors to The People’s Library: Johanna Lawrenson, Mickey Z, and Jesse Jackson

Mickey Z and Johanna Lawrenson (Abbie Hoffman’s widow) stopped by the library yesterday. Jesse Jackson also passed through.


Filed under Photographs, Steve S.

Chris Hedges visits The People’s Library

As you can see, he also signed and donated a bunch of his books! Chris is an amazing guy and very kind. He’s been to the library a few times already. I’m hoping to have a group conversation with him. Coming soon!

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London Review of Books blogs about the OWS Library

This is my favorite publication, so I’ve been waiting to see them do a piece on us or the movement as a whole. They also have a blog, and we did get a mention there and even a link back to this blog:


Filed under Steve S.

The People’s Library Loves Books and the Writers of Books Love the People’s Library

Here’s Beth Gutcheon donating a copy each of all of her books—and in the rain! I asked her to pose for a photo and inscribe her donations. Because, how great is this?

If you meet any other writers who want to donate their own books, I encourage you to post photos! Nobody has turned me down yet. Don’t let those camera shy authors get away too easily!

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Filed under Photographs, Steve S.

My photos of shoes from Occupy Wall Street—Occu-pieds

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Nationwide Occupation Libraries Unite!

I’ll be visiting the following cities on behalf of the OWSLibrary on these dates:

Chicago: Oct 24 – 28

Boston: Nov 3-6

Philadelphia: Nov 12-13

San Francisco: Nov 16-30

Get in touch if you would like me to visit your library. OWSLibrary in New York has a growing surplus of books and supplies, and we may be in a position to assist you!


Filed under Steve S.

Naomi Klein and Eve Ensler visit The People’s Library

Lovely people both and excited about what we’re doing.


Filed under Photographs, Steve S.

Slavoj Zizek visits OWS (Video and Transcript)

I’m sorry I missed this. I love Zizek!


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A useful daily feed of updates from occupations around the country

Yes, also provided by The Nation! I find this useful, because I don’t hear about all the celebrity visitors to Liberty Plaza, which is interesting to hear about. The support of well known people can’t hurt. Yesterday, I failed to notice Al Sharpton, Geraldo Rivera, Slavoj Zizek, Susan Sarandon, Kanye West, and a few others. Did any of them stop by the library? This is also a great feed for keeping updated on all the other occupations. I want to organize some outreach to other libraries around the country as soon as we’re weather secure.


Filed under Announcements, Steve S.

I just love this photo

A day in the life of the People’s Library Reference desk.


Filed under Announcements, Photographs, Steve S.

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.

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.

Our new Flickr photo stream

Please post and encourage visitors to the library to post their photos to our new Flickr group photo stream.


Filed under Announcements, Steve S.