Author Archives: Mandy Henk

Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology Now Online

We are proud to offer you the complete Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology!

In the past, the poets responsible for editing the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology wanted readers to experience the magic of the occupation while reading the poems the movement has generated.

With the police raid though, now seemed a good time to get a positive story about Occupy Wall Street into the discourse.  Occupy Wall Street isn’t about fighting the police or senselessly tearing systems down, we’re out to create a new beautiful world.  And one of the ways we are doing that is through is through poetry.  So please, share our anthology, read about our movement and our lives, and know this: Occupy Wall Street will build that better world though unity, determination, and beautiful words.

If you’ve submitted a poem and don’t see it, no worries: Our resident poet assembling the anthology hasn’t slept since the raid and needs sleep.  He will get to it soon.  And if you want to share a poem, please send it to Stephen.j.boyer@gmail.com with the subject line Occupy Poetry Anthology.

 

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Filed under Announcements, Literature, Mandy, Poetry, Stephen, Steve S.

Help Needed Retrieving Books!

Friends of the People’s Library–we need help!

The City is freeing our seized books, magazines and other materials at 650 57th Street (entrance at 56th nr or 12th St.), but we need people with cars and people who can help load those cars.

Here is what we need to move:

• 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;
• posters (including many original posters created by OWS participants);
• two lamps;
• four solar lights;
• 7 (or so) chairs;
• a wooden dinner table;
• periodicals/newspapers/zines (not counted in our book total);
• our awesome tent; [donated by Patti Smith]
• signage;
• personal belongings of librarian

We are also still missing two Librarians! Two young men, Scales and Charlie, are still in the system and we’d like them back please Mr. Bloomberg. These brave librarians have been tireless volunteers and went down with the Library on Monday night. Release them so that they can get back to work serving the information and literary needs of the 99%.

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Filed under Announcements, Emergency Actions, Mandy

And where is the rest of it?

The Mayor’s Office claims our books are safe and offers this pic as proof

We’re glad to see some books are OK. Now, where are the rest of the books and our shelter and our boxes? Nice try guys, but we won’t be convinced until we actually have all our undamaged property returned to us.

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Filed under Announcements, Mandy

ReOccupy Writers Stand in Solidarity with OWS Tonight at 6:00

Tonight at 6:00 writers and readers from across New York City will gather in Liberty Plaza to reoccupy the space and rebuild the People’s Library. Authors will bring their books, readers will bring their favorite books to donate and together we will rebuild to create the revolution this country needs.

I invite those not in NYC to gather at their occupations, campuses, squares, and parks to read poetry and prose in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the 99%. Literature is a revolutionary force. Let’s unleash it against the forces who would divide and conquer us. Let’s make the sound of democracy heard across this whole country. Share your poems, your dreams, and your stories with each other. Stand in solidarity together.

Join us in NYC and across the world for a night of readings, poetry, and revolutionary ideas. Together we will change this country and reclaim our democracy for the 99%.

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Filed under Donations, Emergency Actions, Literature, Mandy, OccupyLibraries, Solidarity

Occupy Libraries: Guerrilla Librarianship for the People

What is Guerrilla Librarianship?

Guerrilla librarianship involves building and maintaining libraries directly where people and the need for information intersect. It can mean building them on a beach, in a bar, or at an occupation.

Guerrilla libraries exist for many reasons:

  • To meet the information needs of a hard to reach group
  • To surprise and entertain
  • To enhance people’s enjoyment of an event
  • To educate and inform as conveniently as possible
  • To offer a common space for education and intellectual engagement outside of traditional spaces like universities and public libraries

Guerrilla librarianship is well grounded in Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science:

1. Books are for use.
Books found at guerrilla libraries are particularly easy to use because the books are brought to the readers, rather than readers being expected to make the trek to the library.

2. Every reader the right book.
The key word in this law is every. Guerrilla libraries help to broaden access to the books and information by providing access to populations who might never visit a library. There are many people who, for a variety of reasons including legal status, fear of being kicked out because of how they dress or look, and uncertainly about what the library offers, won’t visit a physical library building. Guerrilla libraries offer them a welcoming alternative to meet their information needs.

3. Every book the right reader.
Authors all have something say and this law is based on the idea that each book has a reader; that someone, somewhere wants to discover what each author has to say. By providing access to a wider variety of readers, guerrilla libraries help to make the match between book and reader.

4. Save the time of the reader.
By bringing books to gatherings and other settings where people already are, guerrilla libraries facilitate a faster and more convenient experience for the reader. They offer materials directly to users at the point of need—and often at times when traditional libraries are closed for the evening. Most guerrilla libraries are also organized to facilitate easy browsing on topics of interest to the community.

5. The library is a growing organism.
Libraries do grow, but more than just growth, this law is about change. Guerrilla libraries are constantly shifting, growing, being remade, and transforming. Each day that a guerrilla library is opened it takes on a new form as new materials arrive, new labels are created for new subjects, and different librarians cycle in and out.

Most of all guerrilla librarianship is an act of resistance . . .
• Guerrilla libraries are usually a common, a place where materials are held by the community at large for the joint benefit of all members. By their very existence they reject the idea that relationships should be constructed and mediated by a market. They also provide a stark alternative to the vision presented by market theorists of a human nature based in self-interest and competition.

• Guerrilla libraries are generally underground, that is, they are created without the approval or support of the state or other authority. Instead, they provide a space for people to arrange their own relationships and provide for their own needs.

• Guerrilla libraries often provide space in their collections for ideas that are not typically well-represented in other kinds of library collections. Erotica, ‘zines, and radical political ideas all find a place on the shelves of guerrilla libraries.

• Guerrilla libraries often reject hierarchy as an organizing principle for the librarians. Rather than arrange themselves into a power structure with some sitting at the apex of a pyramid, guerrilla libraries usually have a horizontal organizational structure. They also tend to rely on consensus to make decisions.

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Filed under Mandy, OccupyLibraries

Occupied Wall Street Journal #3

With a front page article about the People’s Library.

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Filed under Announcements, Mandy, OWS Journal

“Information is Liberation”: A People’s Librarian’s Thoughts on the Library at #OWS

In the midst of the singing, the chanting, the debating of Liberty Plaza, a library has bloomed.

Stocked with donations and staffed by volunteers, it sits ready and waiting to offer the printed word to all who can read.

Occupy Wall Street is a true grassroots uprising.  Liberty Plaza and the occupations in other cities are places to begin healing our profoundly sick and downright broken society.  They are places to speak truth to power and to each other.  Most importantly, the occupations are places to will and to work our alternative vision into being.

To reimagine who we are, to understand who have become, is a group activity.  It requires public truth-telling and personal reflection.  For this to be a fair process, a just process, an inclusive process, we need to ensure that each and every citizen has access to that discussion and the facts that inform it.   That’s why there is a library at OWS.

Libraries serve as an equalizer, reducing information-asymmetry so that all citizens can debate on a level playing field.  They offer access to all ideas not because all ideas are equally good or true, but because all ideas deserve their chance to be heard and because nothing becomes more enticing than an idea censored or hidden.

“Information is liberation” is a truth that can be hard to grasp from a position of privilege.   If you work for a university or live in a large city with a strong library system, information is like oxygen: always there, always (apparently) free.  For the many millions who don’t work for a university and who don’t live in a large city with a well funded public library, information is scarce and often expensive.

It should go without saying, but we cannot be free as a people if we do not all have access to high quality information, including information that comes through stories and poetry.  Without information and stories we can’t examine narratives put forth by the powerful and judge them from a position of information-equality.  A prominent librarian said in a recent op-ed decrying cuts to public library budgets, “The next Abraham Lincoln could be sitting in their library, teaching himself all he needs to know to save the country. “  Of course, he could be, but it reveals just how far our national discourse has degraded that she felt the need to invoke Abraham Lincoln.  Even if there is no Lincoln in her library, or in any other, even if her only readers are the humblest citizens among us, a free and just society still requires a library.

Like in the middle-ages when priests controlled society by interpreting the Bible, so today the corporate power structure controls us by controlling what we know.  They highlight the facts they wish us to understand, they downplay and ignore the stories they wish to obscure.   Objective data and peer reviewed analysis is barricaded behind expensive pay walls and the public’s access to this knowledge is endangered through severe cuts in funding for public and even academic libraries.

Healing ourselves, redeeming our politics and our culture, requires a new understanding of who we have become as a people.  It requires a reimagining of what it means to be an American, how we treat one another, and how we behave in the world.  Democracy is only possible if we have political equality and political equality is only possible when each and every citizen has both a strong education and ongoing access to the stream of scholarly and cultural conversation.

Libraries are more important than ever in these times.  They guard the right of the public to know and to seek answers, they provide all citizens with access to facts, to the cultural narratives that aren’t approved by the dominant power structure, and most of all they contribute to the creation of political equality between citizens by reducing the impacts of economic inequality.

The People’s Library at OWS, and all of the other occupation libraries,  are an expression of these roles.  They stand in the midst of the protest as a living embodiment of the vision of a just and democratic society we all hold so dearly.  The creation of the libraries is an act of protest that says, “We are all one and together we will build the society we have all imagined.”

Cross posted to Daily Kos.

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Filed under Mandy, OccupyLibraries, Radical Reference