Category Archives: 11/15 Eviction

Wrapping Up

Dear friends of the People’s Library, we recently hit a turning point in the history of our beloved library. As you may remember, last spring we reached a settlement with the city and it’s various departments and officials. We received $47,000 and a not-quite-apology. We got lots of questions about what we were going to do with all that money.

As the city and the NYPD have made it an impossible thing to plant libraries such as we once had, we knew it would be futile and wasteful to attempt such a thing. Further, we are tired and busy, and many of us have moved on to other projects and several have left NYC for less hellish homes.  Besides which, money being power, and power corrupting… we didn’t want it. After all, it wasn’t really about the money, it’s just that money is how capitalist government says it’s sorry. Earlier on in the lawsuit process, we were offered a settlement without the not-quite-apology. We didn’t take it.

Anyway, we had no use for it, but we knew there were lots of groups that could use it. We drew up a list of groups we’d like to help out, divided, and wrote some checks.

Of course, it wasn’t actually that simple. There was a ridiculous group video conference, where we spent more time trying to get the damn thing to work than actually talking, for example. It obviously took a while. I’d especially like to thank Michele, Danny, and Zachary for staying on top of it and doing most of the legwork. I’d also like to thank our liaisons from Finance for helping us out along the way. And, as always, big thanks to our lawyers.

For transparency’s sake, here’s the list of groups we gave it to. We’ve held on to a little bit for things like maintaining the domain registrations of the blog and what-have-you.

  • Word Up Community Bookshop
  • The Brecht Forum
  • Bluestockings Books
  • Queers for Economic Justice
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Food for Thought Books
  • Waging Nonviolence
  • Reader to Reader
  • Silvia Rivera Law Project
  • OWS Jail Support / Just Info
  • Indiana Prison College
  • Free University NYC
  • Books Through Bars
  • Housing Works
  • NYC Anarchist Black Cross
  • Pink and Black
  • Urban Librarians Unite
  • Queens Café (new community space in Queens)
  • Leadnow
  • Free Press
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • NYCLU
  • Demand Progress
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Queens Library Foundation
  • New York Public Library
  • New Alternatives
  • Bailey House
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • Interference Archive
  • American Indian College Fund
  • Brooklyn Base
  • Tamiment Library
  • OWS poetry Anthology

So, that’s pretty much it, y’all. It’s been great to serve you as your faithful librarians. You’ll hear from us occasionally as we work on further projects. And next time things go all insurrection, we’ll be there, too, books in hand.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Cops, Donations, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Lawsuit

Media Round-Up Part III: Still #Winning

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…

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Media Round-Up Part II: OWS v. Bloomberg Settlement

The Occupy Wall Street library in Zuccot

Huffington Post featured a photo of the later days of the library, when a good part of the collection was protected by Fort Smith (maybe someone will correct Wikipedia on this now..) and uses the AP story to declare “New York City has agreed to pay Occupy Wall Street protesters more than $100,000 for property damaged or lost when police cleared out their encampment in a downtown Manhattan park in 2011, according to court documents signed on Tuesday.” read more…

peopleslib

The Daily News chose to show off Steve’s smiling face and sounds surprised that a collection of graduate students, writers, artists, seasoned activists and librarians was able to work with a skilled civil rights attorney to win this case… as they report “Remember the anti-authority message of Occupy Wall Street? Remember the backlash over its vague goals and nebulous methods? Surprise! Occupy Wall Street (OWS) just struck a sizeable victory, and it came by working within the system.” read more…

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The Voice of Russia (American Edition) covers the story and connects it, unlike most of the other press, to bank bailouts! Follow the link to listen to the story: “The settlement has returned attention to the issue of bailouts, a central theme of Occupy Wall Street and a central theme of similar protests in Russia, where $25 billion was spent to bail out the financial sector and another $10 billion was spent to bail out the small business industry, said Dmitry Babich, a Voice of Russia political commentator.” read more…and listen here…

Protest-group-settles-suit-for-lost-books

UPI chose a photo for their story that doesn’t fit their description of the occupation as a “sit-in” nonetheless, they report “New York City and a property owner have agreed to pay the Occupy Wall Street movement for books and property destroyed during a sit-in by the group in 2011.” read more…

ows-v-bloomberg-full-text

Galleycat uses a photo of Stephen’s awesome sign that he made while trying to protect the library from being seized by the city. read more…

Zuccotti-Park-Occupy-Wall-007

This opinion piece on Gather gets at least, and perhaps only, one thing right when they refer to the Occupy movement as “radical” and “anti-capitalist.” The rest of it distorts the facts or just makes things up such as “The police even stored the books for pick-up.” Well…. actually the books that weren’t destroyed were sent to a sanitation garage, not held by the police, and the tweet from the mayor’s office was nothing more than a PR stunt because they were losing the image game in the press. This article also ignores the fact that Bloomberg’s office did not preserve any books or make them available (although they lied on twitter and said they had), because most of them had been thrown away or destroyed – as the city clearly admits in the settlement. read more….(although it’s really not worth reading)

NYPD-Occupy-Raid-Settlement

The Inquisitr, whatever that is, reports quite correctly that it was the NYPD (under Bloomberg’s command) who cost the city $366,000 in this case, writing “The NYPD’s raid on Occupy Wall Street in 2011 will cost the city $366,700. The raid was launched on November 15, 2011 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the police to evict protesters at Zuccotti Park.” read more…

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msn.com mentions the police brutality charges brought by journalists who were stopped from covering the violent eviction writing “Occupy Wall Street hasn’t scaled the same heights of publicity it had in 2011, but at least one NYC organization is still feeling heat from the group. That would be the NYPD, whose (some would say heavy-handed) November 2011 raid on the group’s Zuccotti Park encampment is going to cost them $366,700 in settlement money, according to a recent court ruling. That figure covers the destruction of books, computer equipment and bicycle-powered generators the group was using. What of the brutality charges levied against the NYPD by journalists arrested while trying to cover the raid? That’s covered in a separate lawsuit. So, $366K for one raid — was it worth it?” read more….

occupy-wall-street_top

And finally, Maclean’s uses the prototypical chanting protester image, but quotes Jaime’s blog post! “Our court case against New York City’s various officials and agencies is over!,” the People’s Library wrote on its website Tuesday. “The city has settled with us.” read more…

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OWS v. Bloomberg Full Text of Settlement

The settlement text:

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Media Round-Up: OWS v. Bloomberg Settlement

Although the People’s Library plans to hold a press conference tomorrow (Wednesday, April 10, at 11 AM, at 260 Madison Avenue) there is a great deal of attention on your library in the press tonight. So I wanted to round it up here and share how the story is shaping up in the media so far:

The New York Times opens with “As myriad court battles pitting the Occupy Wall Street movement against New York City agencies proceed, protesters claimed a victory on Tuesday, based not on how they were treated, but on how their books were mistreated.” read more…

The Atlantic reports “Fans of justice will be glad to hear that New York City will pay for all those books and all that media equipment that the police trashed when it famously raided the Occupy Wall Street camp on November 15, 2011.” read more…

Reuters reports “New York City has agreed to pay Occupy Wall Street protesters more than $100,000 for property damaged or lost when police cleared out their encampment in a downtown Manhattan park in 2011, according to court documents signed on Tuesday.” read more…

The Wall Street Journal uses the AP story and writes “There’s been a settlement in the lawsuit filed over the seizure of the Occupy Wall Street library at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.”read more…

The Village Voice says “In an agreement announced today, the City of New York will pay more than $365,000 to settle a lawsuit bought by people whose property was destroyed when the New York Police Department raided Zuccotti Park and evicted Occupy Wall Street on November 15, 2001.”read more…

Gawker writes that “Occupy Wall Street won a major legal battle earlier today when it agreed to a settlement from the city of New York that will pay the activist group over $230,000 in damages and legal fees. ” read more…

New York Magazine reports “New York City and Zuccotti Park owner Brookfield Properties have agreed to pay $366,700 to settle a lawsuit over the chaotic November 2011 police raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment at the plaza. “read more…

 

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Neil Smith, NYC Occupy History and the Political Geography of Revolt

I’ve wanted to mark the recent sudden and tragic death of radical geographer Neil Smith, but wasn’t sure quite how. Just now, as I was re-reading his book “The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City” I realized that I could do this in two ways. First by sharing some passages from the first chapter, which contains an account of the eviction of the Tompkins Square Park occupation in 1988 (and again in 1991) echoing the eviction from Liberty Plaza of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, and second by sharing a link to the entire book in PDF form, which is available free online from the National Technical University (NTUA) in Athens.

Neil Smith’s account of the occupation and eviction, as well as his analysis of urban class struggle are vital texts for occupiers to understand the history of resistance in the city. For those who haven’t read them, or aren’t familiar with the occupation of Tompkins Square, they will be eye-opening:

On the evening of August 6, 1988, a riot erupted along the edges of  Tompkins Square Park, a small green in New York City’s Lower East Side. It raged through the night with police on one side and a diverse mix of anti-gentrification protesters, punks, housing activists, park inhabitants, artists, Saturday night revelers and Lower East Side residents on the other. The battle followed the city’s attempt to enforce a 1:00 A.M. curfew in the Park on the pretext of clearing out the growing numbers of homeless people living or sleeping there, kids playing boom boxes late into the night, buyers and sellers of drugs using it for business. But many local residents and park users saw the action differently. The City was seeking to tame and domesticate the park to facilitate the already rampant gentrification on the Lower East Side . . .”Whose fucking park? It’s our fucking park,” became the recurrent slogan . . .

. . . In fact it was a police riot that ignited the park on August 6, 1988. Clad in space-alien riot gear and concealing their badge numbers, the police forcibly evicted everyone from the park before midnight, then mounted repeated baton charges and “Cossacklike” rampages against demonstrators and locals along the park’s edge:

‘The cops seemed bizarrely out of control, levitating with some hatred I didn’t understand. They’d taken a relatively small protest and fanned it out over the neighborhood, inflaming hundreds of people who’d never gone near the park to begin with. They’d called in a chopper. And they would eventually call 450 officers… The policemen were radiating hysteria . . .’ (Carr 1988:10)

. . .In the days following the riot, the protesters quickly adopted a much more ambitious political geography of revolt. Their slogan became “Tompkins Square everywhere” as they taunted the police and celebrated their liberation of the park. Mayor Edward Koch, meanwhile, took to describing Tompkins Square Park as a “cesspool” and blamed the riot on “anarchists.” Defending his police clients, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association enthusiastically elaborated: “social parasites, druggies, skinheads and communists” –an “insipid conglomeration of human misfits” –were the cause of the riot, he said. . .

Smith, N. 1996. The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City. Routledge.

First photo from Ángel Franco of The New York Times. Additional images are from Q. Sakamaki‘s book Tompkins Square Park.

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Lawsuit Update

Whoops!

So, we here at the Library have been sitting on this for a while, but the cat’s out of the bag now, thanks to the Village Voice.  In short, the city and Brookfield (owners of Zuccotti/Liberty) are pointing fingers and loudly yelling, “nuhuh!”

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OWS and People’s Librarians File Federal Lawsuit against the City for 11/15 Raid on Zuccotti Park

Today, Occupy Wall Street and several librarians from the People’s Library filed a Federal lawsuit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, as well as other unknown city officials and employees, charging them with unconstitutional and unlawful seizure, damage and destruction of the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library in the middle of night on November 15, 2011, part of the wider raid on the occupation of Zuccotti Park.

On that night, with a scant 45-minute warning, NYPD officers ordered Zuccotti Park cleared and vacated. Occupiers were told they would be allowed to return when the park had been cleaned and that remaining property would be transported to a DSNY garage on 57th Street, where it could be recovered with proper identification. However, the NYPD blocked librarians—inside and outside the park—from gathering the library’s books and equipment. With most occupiers and journalists expelled from the park, workers loaded items from the park into “crusher” trucks, only later switching to flatbed trucks. The next day, when librarians went to recover books and equipment from the 57th St. Sanitation Garage, they found just a small percentage of the books that were taken. 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—presumably victims of the “crusher” trucks—or were damaged beyond repair.

Most of the library simply disappeared: the books, the tent, the shelves, our stamps, our donation box, and more. The books that came back destroyed stank with mildew and food waste; some resembled accordions or wrung-out laundry.

None of this is new. We made the results of Bloomberg’s raid public back in November, asking the city to replace the books and admit wrongdoing. However, Bloomberg has not admitted wrongdoing and has denied that any books or property was damaged or destroyed. We know that is not true.

We cannot allow the Mayor and his commissioners to get away with these violations of law and constitutional rights. We have now filed a Federal lawsuit to demand accountability from the city and its officials, demanding both compensatory and punitive damages. We believe that the raid and its aftermath violated our First-Amendment rights to free expression, Fourth-Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure, and Fourteenth-Amendment rights to due process, as well as the laws of the City of New York regarding the vouchsafing of seized property. We are demanding compensatory damages for the lost/destroyed books and equipment, which we have estimated at at least $47,000. In addition, because we believe the seizure and destruction of the books went beyond negligence to constitute a reckless and callous indifference to our constitutional rights, we are demanding punitive damages of at least $1000.

These books—and the library itself—arose organically with Occupy Wall Street; visitors and occupiers (as well as authors, publishers, and editors) brought books and other materials to the park, and librarians —some professionals, and others not—stepped forward to steward what at the time of the raid became a collection of 5,500 titles with an honor-system borrowing policy. The library was a common space for education, debate, relaxation, and information. While lawsuits use the language of “property” and “damages,” what is at stake here is much more. Our books—and these were all our books—should not have been destroyed. We hope to hold the Bloomberg Administration accountable for their actions on Nov 15th.

Full complaint is here.

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Lawsuit Press Roundup

A round-up of today’s lawsuit in the news:

As Reuters and the AP have picked up the story, it’s now appearing in dozens of papers and web sites nation-wide. From the Reuters coverage:  “Occupy Wall Street filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against New York City, claiming authorities destroyed $47,000 worth of books, computers and other equipment confiscated from the protesters’ encampment in lower Manhattan last fall.” and includes the case information “The case is Occupy Wall Street et al. v. Michael Bloomberg et al., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-4129.”

The Republic uses the Reuters coverage and writes of  the November raid and today’s lawsuit: “Police conducted a surprise overnight raid at Zuccotti Park . . . clearing scores of protesters who had set up tents at the plaza near Wall Street and dealing a significant blow to the movement’s potency. As part of the sweep, Occupy claims, police officers seized more than 3,000 books from the “People’s Library.” While some of the books were eventually returned, many were in unusable condition, while the rest were apparently destroyed, according to Occupy’s lawyer, Norman Siegel. The lawsuit also questions whether the raid itself was constitutional, Siegel said.”

The Wall Street Journal is using the AP report which says that the “federal lawsuit accuses New York City of violating the Constitution by raiding an Occupy Wall Street site last year and destroying books.”

The Gothamist coverage quotes Norman Siegel, “one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit says ‘It not only addresses the seizure and destruction of the books, but it also seeks to show why, how, and who planned the raid on Zuccotti Park.’ Siegel adds that the city should have been subject to a court hearing before seizing and destroying the thousands of books that made up the library—including Bloomberg’s own book. ‘Every other city did it before they raided encampments, but not here. The city violated the civil rights of the librarians. The Bloomberg administration had the power to do what they did, but not the right.’”

The NY Daily News reports “The bookworms of Occupy Wall Street have slapped the city with some hefty library fines.

Democracy Now! reports on the lawsuit, noting that “With thousands of books, the library was a proud fixture of the occupation of Zuccotti Park” - video at 11:44.

The Paramas Post covers the lawsuit here.

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Media Alert for Library Press Event/Lawsuit: THURSDAY, MAY 24, 11:00 AM

For Immediate Release: May 23, 2012

Press Contact: press@occupywallst.org, 347-292-1444

For this action only: William Scott, 412-390-6510

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street Librarians to file Federal Court lawsuit against Bloomberg, the City of New York and NYPD — legal effort to uncover November 15 raid details.

New York–A lawsuit will be filed tomorrow, May 24, in Manhattan Federal Court seeking redress for the destruction of books, materials and equipment from the popular and respected People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). NYPD raided and forcibly evicted Occupy Wall Street, including the People’s Library, from its Liberty Square camp (also known as Zuccotti Park) on November 15, 2011. The middle-of-the night raid, by members of the NYPD and other city agencies, was authorized by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Journalists were prevented from witnessing the attack; some were arrested. The raid struck not only at Constitutional rights but at a fundamental tool of enlightenment – thousands of library books and materials were destroyed.

What: Federal Court lawsuit filing, press availability with OWS Librarians and lawyers. Copies of the complaint will be available.

When: Thursday, May 24, at 11:00 AM

Where: United States District Court (Manhattan Federal Court), Manhattan. Press availability OUTSIDE — directly across the street from the 200 Worth entrance, on the sidewalk in front of Columbus Park

Who: Occupy Wall Street Librarians from the People’s Library, lawsuit attorneys Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum of Siegel, Teitelbaum & Evans.

Occupy Wall Street is part of an international people powered movement fighting for economic justice in the face of neoliberal economic practices, the crimes of Wall Street, and a government controlled by monied interests. #OWS is the 99% organizing to end the tyranny of the 1%. For more info, visit www.occupywallst.org and www.nycga.net

# # #

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People’s Library presentation at ALA Midwinter

Following is the text presented at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference Saturday January 21, 8:30 am at the Dallas Convention Center Theater by Occupy Wall Street Librarians Daniel Norton, Mandy Henk, Betsy Fagin, Jaime Taylor and Zachary Loeb.

[Danny]

Good Morning ALA Midwinter 2012 Dallas! My name is Daniel Norton, I am a student of Library Science, and I am both proud and honored to introduce to you a group of professionals who have not only impacted me in very meaningful ways as a future professional, but who have an inspiring and interesting story to share with you today…

[Mandy]

On September 17th of last year a group of committed activists, activists diverse in age, race, and social class, taking their inspiration from the Arab Spring, “occupied” a public space in New York City’s financial district. They rejected the legitimacy of the existing authorities and engaged in direct action to build a new and better world. A world based on old principles. Principles embedded deep in the American psyche, but lately forgotten. Solidarity. Mutual aid. Equality. Autonomy. Democracy—real democracy based on consensual, non-hierarchical self-governance. The activists of Occupy Wall Street built a People’s Kitchen so that no one need know hunger. They built a Comfort station so that no one need suffer the cold. Medical care, Arts and Culture, a Spirituality Space, even a phone charging station . . . .all of the necessities of life—including a library. Occupy Wall Street is about creating a new and better world ourselves. As a free people united for justice.

Occupiers have faced repeated police brutality—peaceful Occupiers have been arrested, maced, gassed, attacked with police scooters and sound canons. On November 15th, our occupation and our library were destroyed in a brutal early morning raid. Our colleagues and comrades were arrested, our collection tossed into a dumpster, our tent cut apart with a chainsaw. But we are here, we are strong, and we are committed to the fight for justice. We are the Librarians of Occupy Wall Street and we are committed to using the tools of our profession–books, literacy, bibliographic control, reference and readers advisory in that fight. As librarians we understand the vital role libraries play in society and in a healthy democracy and our library stands as our living commitment to that fulfilling that role.

We’re each going to give a brief reflection and then we’ll have a presentation on our library and time for questions.

[Betsy]

One of the unique characteristics of Occupy is how it is a very local expression of a group of people in any particular place, but the impulse to build a library, to share knowledge and resources is universal.

In November there was a brief article in the Guardian with a slide show of other Occupy Libraries in Washington DC, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Toronto and London that gave us one of our first glimpses of how Occupy libraries were multiplying.

The Biblioteca Acampada Sol in Madrid that grew out of the M15 movement has been a particular inspiration to us & I want to read some of a letter they sent to us in early October as it mirrors our own experience at Occupy Wall Street and expresses some of how we are bound together whether we know it or not:

Hi Peoples Library!

Cheers from the public library of the Spanish revolution occupation at Madrid!

We are the Acampada Sol Library, The library that was formed during the occupation of the Puerta del Sol Square here in Madrid- Spain last May. We have been following OWS from the very first day and let’s say we are glad to see that you found the way out to organise you up almost in the same way we did while we were camping at the city hall square in Madrid at Puerta del Sol.

What we saw [in] the pics of OWS was quite impressive, but you couldn’t imagine how surprised we were when we realized that OWS has also a library. It may sound stupid but when we knew that, we celebrated it as the born of a new one in the family.

Why? well, it´s difficult to explain but during the nearly seven weeks we lived there hearing the rain fall over the piece of plastic that barely covered our books (not us) we had a lot of time to think about what we were going trough. The media described us as bums, the government as the most dangerous kind of terrorists (the pacifist’s kind) and we slept always waiting for the final police riot that would throw everything down. We had time for joy and also for despair. We never knew what we were doing, we only knew that it was right. People said it was useless to demand a U-turn in local politics in a country with a globalized economy. We replied if so, that we expected to make our demands go global then, they said it was a childish dream and they laughed…

We only want to thank all of you to be there, because maybe you don’t realize it, but you’re making our dream come true… Obviously to do the right thing, far from being a utopia or related to culture is a matter of common sense.

We should say that none of us decided to open up a library during our occupation, it appeared by itself. People who came to support us wanted us to have some of their books, they wanted us to read and to take care of them. We started out only with forty titles. People came up to rest from the everyday routines, trying to find a shelter in the written words under our blue tent, poets showed up to read them their works and free thinkers their essays…The manager of one major corporate library in town gave us book-carts and everything we needed. “Just don’t tell anyone” he asked. One donation come after another and in a few weeks we reached nearly four thousands titles at our outdoor library. A funny heritage to save considering that we were waiting to be bludgeoned and evicted from one minute to other…

We love to hear from you to know how all of you guys are going and we hope you’ll find inspiration in our little story to realise that you are not alone in this.

Thank You!

Pd[sic]: Sorry for our lousy English.

Bibliosol – Biblioteca de Acampada Sol

During the time we held the park, we were so busy organizing and running the library, arranging events, talking to people & trying to evade arrest that we didn’t have much opportunity to reach out beyond Zuccotti Park. Since the raid, connecting Occupy libraries together has become one of our primary aims.

We are still in the early stages of forming a consortium of Occupy libraries (& if anyone would like to get involved, please get in touch with me), but have already been in touch with libraries that are still active despite many of the camps being shut down. As of today, we’ve had enthusiastic response from about a dozen libraries and we are beginning to share our experiences and resources to strategize future steps and clarify the roles of libraries within the Occupy Movement. One particularly exciting development has been the role our library can play assisting educators. Many college professors have begun teaching courses on Occupy and who better to help them find accurate, timely information than the libraries and librarians who have been there.

[Jaime]

I want to make it very clear that the People’s Library is not like most other libraries. Most libraries, at least those in places like the United States, have walls and roofs and doors and shelves. They have regular electricity, bathrooms, call numbers, hours of operation. They don’t have, for the most part, rain and snow inside them, or giant papier mâché bulls on Sunday afternoons, or constant police presence and the threat of arrest or violence that comes with it. Your library has probably never had anything to do with a tent, nor is anyone living in it, and while some of you have had the occasional visit from the authorities, your disaster plans don’t stipulate what to do when hundreds of cops come calling, tear down the whole thing, and arrest anyone inside. Let me also be clear that none of this is hyperbole.

One aspect I particularly want to touch on is the decision-making process we use. The Library Working Group works on consensus. When I was in library school, we talked about horizontal structures and consensus as a cutting edge way of organizing library work and staff. Please throw that all out the window. Please. The meaning of ‘consensus’ used in my library school classroom and the meaning of it at the Occupation and in radical politics generally are not the same. For us, consensus requires that nearly everyone support a decision. If there are people with serious concerns about a proposal, what we call a ‘block,’ we need at least 90% those present to be in support of it. Degreed librarians have no more weight in making decisions than an 18-year-old college student, an underemployed actress, or a crusty traveling kid. At the same time, individual librarians are empowered to act autonomously to a large extent; if a librarian had a good idea, and an action wouldn’t greatly affect the library as a whole, that person was welcome to make it happen, barring serious concerns from others, without seeking permission as such. The flip side of that autonomy is that an individual librarian need not involve themself with a library project they don’t like or agree with, that in Occupation terms they ‘stand aside’ from. This is in severe contrast to even the flatter organizational structures in normal libraries, which are remain hierarchies and for which we might say about consensus, ‘you keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.’

When formulating policies and procedures for the Library, we considered not only library best practices, but also the ideological nature of our existence, and the unique practical realities of our operations.

There are some aspects of the Occupy Wall Street Library that are easily recognizable: we have an OPAC of sorts on LibraryThing; we have master’s degree holding librarians doing library work, as well as what could be termed paraprofessionals, techies, and friends of the library; we have books and -had- computers.

Our OPAC, as I’ve said, is on LibraryThing. We already had several hundred books when the catalog began, and so we retroactively cataloged everything in the collection at that point, and then cataloged new arrivals as they came in. Some books were added through barcode scanning, but most were done by searching the ISBN. Chapbooks, older books, and other items without ISBNs were cataloged by hand. We’d then mark the books as having been received and cataloged. At times when we didn’t have available internet–which is often– we’d write down ISBNs and enter them into LibraryThing when internet was again available.

For most of the library’s existence, we didn’t have actual shelves. The first volumes were placed on a stone bench at the northeast corner of the park. Then they were put is cardboard boxes. Which melted in the rain. Then they were covered by tarps and put in plastic bins. Sometimes the bins could be on the bench and the ledge above it, sometimes the cops told us they couldn’t be. Very often– especially when it was raining– we were told we couldn’t cover them with tarps. You know, because we might be hiding bombs under there. Or something. So we got clear plastic sheeting instead. Which was acceptable slightly more often than the opaque tarps. But, back to shelving…

Our books don’t have call numbers, and therefore don’t have exact locations. They were broadly sorted in to categories and topics — fiction and non-fiction, non-print, history, economics, poetry, education, women, queer, people of color, non-English, etc. We performed what I liked to call “directly democratic shelving.” That is, whoever was sorting books was empowered to put items where they thought they best belonged. And then if someone found a book in a certain place, but they thought it might be better elsewhere, they were welcome to move it. Personally, and as I would suggest to anyone who asked for advice on shelving, I tried to keep the principle of use in mind. If I was of more than one mind about where a book might belong, I’d consider where our readers might think to look for it, if they wanted that particular book. Or, I’d think about what section they’d be delighted to find it under. Use says that it goes where it will be most and most happily read.

The LibraryThing catalog is a record of the books that have ever been a part of the collection. It does not reflect what might be actually available in the library at any given moment. Circulation is one of the places where ideology and practically met harmoniously. Given that our library in Zuccotti Park had no building, no call numbers, and no library cards, we did not track circulation. Like maintaining a strict shelving order, it would have been nearly impossible to do, and certainly beyond the person-power at our disposal. There was never a formal method of borrowing and returning books. The only method was to find a book you wanted to read, pick it up, and walk off with it. We asked only that the reference collection, which included traditional reference materials such as dictionaries as well as copies of our most popular books– Howard Zinn’s People’s History, for example, not leave the library. Returns are most welcome, but not required. Readers are welcome to pass books along to friends, take them to other Occupations, or hold on to them. We suggest that somehow, though, the book continue to be used.

This method, aside from being practical, given our resources, was ideologically sound. First in mind is that we are the People’s Library. The librarians are caretakers and facilitators. Also, the library was created in a climate of surveillance and a growing police state. Many libraries are very careful about how they keep records and who has access to those records; we circumvented the point by never keeping any. The only way anyone might ever know who read what book would be to see them doing it.

Lastly, there is no collecting policy. Or, rather, there is, and it only has two points: everything we have was donated to us, and we accept everything. We buy supplies, but we never buy books. Every single volume is in the library because some person thought it should be. And we though many of us have disdain for some authors or viewpoints, or the quality of some literature– and being readers as well as librarians, it’s our movement, too, after all, are welcome to say so– we never recycled a book on account of its content. This means that not only was the Library for the people, but, as they are responsible for its creation, that it is of the people.

[Zachary]

The People’s Library represents a collection of thousands upon thousands of books, it ranges across all genres, publication dates, and target audiences. To date over 9,000 books have been cataloged in our group’s LibraryThing – and this is a number which is probably several thousand books lower than the true number of books that have come through the library. While the number of books is impressive in terms of quantity and variety, what makes it truly remarkable is that it is a collection built almost entirely by the library’s patrons (we received some generous donations from publishers).

Books would get placed in the donation box and we would process them: mark them OWSL (or stamp them, back when we had the stamp), write down the ISBN number, sticker them so we knew the volume was “processed,” and shelve them. When we were asked “how does this work?” (Which we were asked constantly), we replied: “it’s a library. Take a book, read it, bring it back, or lend it to a friend, so that the library keeps spreading.”

In the library we were commonly asked “what books do you need?” To which we typically responded: “what do you think we need?” or “what book changed your life?” or “Whatever you want to give.” Although, at a certain point we added to the third response, “but we don’t really need more fiction.” True, the library was built by a steady flow of fiction (popular and classics), but the library sections most heavily perused and borrowed from were: politics, history, biographies, philosophy, ecology, and spirituality. It is a, shall we say, diverse collection. Our collection was as varied as the library’s patrons, who – after all – built the collection. We have Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes. We have Ayn Rand and George Orwell. We have Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter. We have Howard Zinn, Frances Fox Piven, Naomi Klein, and Noam Chomsky. We also have Stephen King, William Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss, and a book by the library’s star patron Michael Bloomberg. We built a reference collection of books that were highly demanded (based largely on request) and F.A. Hayek was in there right next to Karl Marx…though we probably should have known better than to ask people not to remove the reference copy of “Steal this book.”

Due to the ever changing nature of the collection, it could be quite the challenge to help patrons find books, but in the process it provided a real look into what brought people to the occupation. Working in the library involved: searching for books to fit a lot of bizarre requests, listening to a lot of life stories, getting to know the regulars and their book tastes, being yelled at for random things, tidying, processing a ton of books, doing data entry, it was a lot like…working in a library.

[Danny]

Disregarding personal opinion on the matter, Occupy Wall Street, as well as other occupations worldwide, are happening, and they’re inspiring discourse, debate, interest in political spheres and a renewed sense of the power that knowledge holds. The unifying theme of the occupy movement is dissatisfaction, and the result of people gathering to take part in the democratic process of their nation is a rekindling of interest in the early ideas and protections afforded us by our forefathers. This is America, and we The People are our own government. With the ubiquity of information access via the Internet, and the perception that people have the power to access knowledge that suits their needs, what is it that a library affords a populace? A place of community, sharing, conversation and insight. Libraries unite through educational outreach and conservation of those aspects of ourselves and society that represent our culture. What the People’s Library has afforded her patrons is a place to engage with what’s happening in our country, a means to contribute their own sentiments through the donation of materials, and the literacy to see other view points, perhaps form one of their own, and to express criticisms in an effective way. I’ve heard vicious and unapologetically ignorant statements made about the work being done here, even from members of this professional community, and it needs to be recognized that not everyone has the luxury of camping out in Liberty Plaza in order to take a stand, not everyone agrees with the tactics of the Occupy movement, but far more people than is represented are dissatisfied, feeling victimized or are otherwise feeling unfulfilled by the present state of our world, and they’ve chosen the library as a place of solace, and as a means of joining the conversation. The People moved to create a central place of collaboration and equal representation, and (of all things) they built a library as a symbol of such legitimacy.

What does this mean for librarianship? I believe that there is much to be learned from an organizational structure that eschews traditional approaches to educating and informing. I believe that there is insight to partnership in information-seeking in a scenario where there is no circulation desk creating a physical barrier between “librarians” and information seekers. There is an obvious wisdom to be gleaned from the concept of bringing the information to the field as opposed to idly standing by and waiting for the opportunity to field queries from a position far removed from the place in which information is most needed. Our archival team is archiving history in real-time, instead of trying to piece it back together in preservation of retrospect. The precedence here is that librarianship is now this dynamic and engaging vocation that is changing even faster than current professionals believe. The people we serve are redefining us and demanding that we assume our roles as beacons of intellectual freedom and the physical embodiment of American democracy that our education tells us we are. Pertinent to the people in this room, something proven to be most confronting, and a prime example of the ways in which The People’s Library is challenging present structures, is that their resident pre-professional, who is the designated student outreach appointee speaking as a guest at library schools nation wide, is not enrolled in a Master’s program at all, he’s an undergraduate obtaining his bachelor of science in information and library services through a degree offering at the University of Maine at Augusta; a statement whose reception I’ve had run the gamut from an unanticipated hug, to even further unanticipated outright hostility.

What I’m trying to say is that this is such an exciting time to be involved in librarianship. We are existing in a generational instance laden with economic turmoil, burdened with recession and depression, yet people have risen to say that they love their books, they love their right to know, they love their librarians and (most importantly), they love their libraries and that’s on us.. The moral of the story is that we shouldn’t –we can’t– let them down.

[Mandy]

It was Jesse Shera, one of the foremost American library theoreticians of his or any generation, writing almost 50 years ago, who said, “The aim of librarianship, at whatever intellectual level it may operate, is to maximize the social utility of the graphic records, whether the patron served is an unlettered child absorbed in his first picture book or the most advanced scholar engaged in some esoteric inquiry.” He goes on to say, “The storage and retrieval of information, of facts, however expertly done, are valueless if those facts are not used for the betterment of mankind.”

At Occupy Wall Street, the People’s Library evolved, as did the Biblioteca Acampada Sol in Madrid  and the other Occupy libraries, because libraries are necessary to the betterment of humankind. As a profession, librarianship has had a long history as a liberating force in society. Going at least as far back as the working class Chartist movement in England, people seeking their own freedom have built libraries. Libraries offer universal access to recorded knowledge, they offer access to truth, they offer the intellectual means to liberation. That a library should sit at the center of a movement for American liberation, for a revolution in American politics and values is perfectly natural. Libraries, after all, are one of the few sites in American society where that uneasy, yet revolutionary, alliance between the working class and the intellectual class finds common ground.

Still though, why today, why now? Why has a collection of some 7,000 books managed to create such a stir. How have we come to a place where the sharing of books, the gathering and disseminating of knowledge, has come to be such a revolutionary act? One that brought the full force of the militarized  New York police department down upon it.  I think the reason is that today we see an all out assault on exactly what libraries stand for and what they do. Libraries are struggling today, not because our services and collections are no longer relevant, are no longer needed, (there is more than ample evidence proving the opposite) but because the very thing we stand for, the very thing we represent, is itself under assault. The idea of a common, of shared resources, of equal access–access not mediated by a market, but granted as a fundamental right, a right that all human beings share by the virtue of being a member of the human family– is under assault.

Libraries are valuable to society and promote the betterment of humankind because they serve as an intellectual and physical common, a shared collection and shared space that allows people to gather and educate themselves–to debate, discuss, and through the joint exercises of reading and conversation devise for themselves the kind of world they want to build and the way they want to build it.

In times like these, times when economics has been converted to a religion and leaders promote the doctrine of the free market as a panacea, librarianship is a radical profession. Unavoidably, our, profession is political, is radical. It’s political because we stand at the juncture of people and knowledge, and knowledge is power. It is radical because people with access to knowledge and the means to understand it are a powerful people, they are a people who have the means to liberate themselves and to fight for their own freedom.

photo: Frances Mercanti-Anthony

I see librarianship at a crossroads, we face a choice: do we continue down the road of unfettered markets constructing our relationships and communities or do we step back from that false vision and its unfulfilled promises of a golden future and fight for a different future, one based on our fundamental principles, on the idea that all people have value–that all people have inherent worth and dignity? Our country is facing multiple existential challenges–income inequality, climate change, economic catastrophe. We are living in a time when the future looks bleaker everyday.

But we have a choice. We can decide to shun cynicism and hopelessness. We can choose instead to look to our roots, to our radical role as supporters of equality and democracy, and work together within our institutions and cities and profession to carry our libraries into the future, not the techno-utopia often held out as the future, but a real future where we tackle our social problems through the provision of knowledge to all and by fiercely defending the common that we and those who came before us have worked so hard to build.

I joined the People’s Library, I slept out at Zuccotti, in a fort built of boxes of books–of ideas, of stories, of hope, watched over by police wielding clubs and guns, to defend that common and for the opportunity to build a collection and a library based on the principles that I hold dear. I joined because building a library in times like these is an act of resistance and protest and hope and love.


[Jaime]

On Monday, November 14, I went to Zuccotti after work to spend a few hours in the library, as I’d been doing almost every day since October 2– it was, basically, a second full-time job. That day I was there until 9 or 10 at night, and then went home to Brooklyn. At 11:30 I went to bed, looking forward to be getting almost enough sleep that night. Sleep is in chronic short supply at the Occupation.

At 12:53 am on the 15th, an hour and a half later, I got a text message from one of the half dozen live-in librarians, just saying, “Police are here.” Unable to get back in touch with him or any other librarians on site, I called a friend from the jail support team who works overnights and I therefore knew would be awake. By ten after 1 he’d confirmed that it was for real this time. I rolled out of bed, put on my boots, and started calling and texting the other librarians while grabbing the day’s necessities. I got on a train, and got to the financial district at 2 am.

Even making it in that quickly, I couldn’t get within two or three blocks of the park. There were barricades and cops– whom Mayor Bloomberg has since called his “own army”– on every street. As we quickly learned, there was a general media blackout. Reporters were not allowed within sight or hearing of the park, supposedly for their ‘safety,’ which is belied by the fact that news helicopters were also grounded.

It hardly mattered what our emergency plan had been. Of the five librarians who were inside the park that night, two elected to stay, and the three others were only able to remove what they could carry in one trip; once they left the park they could not return to retrieve either personal possessions or library materials. Given that restriction, they carried out our emergency plan, which we’d devised after the city’s previous attempt to remove us, admirably.

The two librarians who stayed ended up being beaten, pepper sprayed, and arrested with more than 150 other Occupiers. Those who were by computers at the time could see them retreat to the Kitchen, which was at the center of the park, as the livestreams and other social media stayed up as long as they could. Within a couple hours, the library, along with the rest of the camp, and been torn down, loaded into city Sanitation dump trucks, and carted away. In video from that night you can see tents being taken down with chainsaws.

As the sun came up, those of us still free gathered in Foley Square. Breakfast appeared from somewhere, the medics continued to clean people up, and working groups and friends tried to figure out who was missing. Around 8 am we heard that the park was cleared and we could go in. A couple of us walked back down, where we met up with a handful of other librarians. We put the books we had on our person back on the bench where the library been just a few hours earlier and declared the People’s Library open once again. We were there only a half hour or so before the cops completely barricaded the place off and kicked us all out. For the rest of the day, the park was closed off like that, the mayor and the police department directly ignoring a court order to allow the people access to the park.

When we finally were allowed back, under heavy security, we set up the library over and over. Those actions have resulted in additional confiscation of books and threats of further arrests. The rules under which police and security have allowed us to operate shift constantly. Aside from the library as place, we’ve taken it mobile, for our own actions as well as in support of other groups’ actions.

During the days after the Occupation’s eviction, Library recovered what we could from the city. That amounted to very little, as Zachary will tell you. We demanded restitution and apologies from the city, which were not forthcoming. We are now pursuing legal action, which will take time, and we will certainly keep the library community up to date with as things happen. Our librarians who were arrested that night have just had their first court appearances, but this, too, will take time. In the meantime, we are doing our best to continue providing library services in support of the movement.

[Zachary]

Shortly after the raid the Mayor’s office sent out a picture via twitter of some books on a table, saying that the People’s library was safe, and that we would be able to go recover it. It was a small picture, hardly panoramic, but it was obvious that the books in the picture were far less than what was taken. Still, we were hopeful that there were just more books off camera. When they finally let out information about recovering materials members of the work group rushed to get back the books. Librarians went to the specified sanitation garage with a print out of the catalog, ready to recover everything that was lost. What was lost? Our tent, our shelves, tables, chairs, bins, archival materials, laptops, miscellaneous office supplies, oh, and around 4,000 books.

What was waiting at sanitation was…a few broken bins filled with books, a severely broken chair, and a folding table. The materials were taken back to a safe storage location, and then I began to sort them. I’m a librarian, but my focus in library school was actually archiving. I’ve done preservation assessments before, and before I went to storage I looked over my notes on conducting such assessments. I went in ready to triage 4,000 books. There weren’t 4,000 books.

There were 1,275 books. I divided these into three categories. Fine, the books that were not damaged, or just lightly so – these were books that could easily be circulated. Damaged but reusable, for books that had taken a beating but which could still be re-read, this was the qualifier for books that had ripped covers, heavy spine damage, light water damage, or some other malady that nevertheless did not keep them from being readable. And then there were the destroyed, books ripped in half, books that had been warped beyond readability, and books that were more mud than book. The break down of this was 579 were fine, 389 were damaged but reusable, and 308 were destroyed. But that’s not where this story ends. Earlier, when I discussed the collection I mentioned that we would mark all of the books so that we knew they were ours…and I was coming across a lot of books that weren’t marked. I also found a lot of journals…and a broken kindle. Sanitation, it seems, didn’t just give us the library books. They gave us every book they found. And thus I re-sorted and re-ran the numbers. It turned out that 272 of the books we got back were not actually library books. Meaning we got back 1,003 library books – about a fourth of what was taken the break down of those books was that 504 were fine, 298 were damaged but reusable, and 201 are destroyed.

Personally, I hope that Mayor Bloomberg just wanted to do a lot of reading– as all but two books from the reference collection vanished– he certainly got an interesting selection. But, I kind of doubt that’s the case.

[Betsy]

One of the primary characteristics of our library is its fluidity. Every day we re-invent ourselves. What we’re doing right now at the People’s Library is streamlining our mobile library project and finding interim physical space for the collection. We are building alliances across the Occupy movement, with educational institutions, and strengthening our ties with allies in public and academic libraries. Books are being published about the Occupy movement, professors are teaching courses on it, and students are studying what we have already done. We mean to be an integral part of these conversations.

What I see in the future is another physical occupation, re-establishing the commons. Over the winter we’re strengthening our roots. We are empowering the decentralized network of people and institutions who are committed to realizing social and economic justice, addressing climate reality and confronting the host of other issues we’ve gathered to address. Together we are willing and able to take our power and insist on necessary, revolutionary change. Join us.

[Zachary]

Despite “the protester” being named the person of the year by Time Magazine (and the article containing a reference to the people’s library), the People’s Library found itself ranked quite differently by another publication. The Village Voice put together a list of the 100 most powerless New Yorkers – yes, powerless. “The Librarians of the Occupy Wall Street “People’s Library”” came in 34th. Here’s what the voice had to say about us “One of the most fun aspects of Zuccotti Park this fall was the “People’s Library” a wide selection of books that sparked free-wheeling discussions. Volunteer librarians (like Bill Scott [who was on the cover]) guarded it with professional care. Although they protected it from Mayor Bloomberg’s first threatened raid on the park (by taking the books away via Zipcar to an “undisclosed location”), the librarians were rendered utterly powerless after the city launched its surprise raid and returned the collection looking like shit.”

It’s always an odd feeling to see yourself called one of the 100 most powerless people, just as it’s odd to see a magazine like Time declare the protestor to be the person of the year. But what’s really odd, isn’t that the People’s Library came in 34th (though it’s worth noting that “The Occupy Wall Street Crust Punks” came in 40th [and if you’ve ever listened to crust punk music you know that calling a crust punk powerless is like calling a chainsaw a feather duster, but I digress]), it’s who came in 13th. Any guesses? The 13th most powerless person/institution in NYC: “The NYPL’s Librarians,” of whom the Voice said:

Perhaps the only people less powerful in the library system than the homeless patrons are the librarians themselves. Gone are the days when a master’s degree in library science and a job in the nations largest public-library system meant that you would spend your days helping writers to research and mesmerizing people with your encyclopedic knowledge of the Dewey decimal system. Today’s NYPL librarian needs to be a social worker, a specialist at dealing with the homeless and the severely mentally ill, a computer tech wiz at solving people’s Wi-Fi problems and a job (and suicide-prevention) counselor helping people look for jobs that simply don’t exist.Even those librarians at the flagship Fifth Avenue main branch (who have been inoculated to some degree form the shit storm of the branch libraries) are preparing for it. As a recent article in the Nation reported, the 3 millions books beneath the Rose Reading Room will soon be shipped off to a storage facility in New Jersey and replaced by seven floors of computer terminals. As a former NYPL librarian said of the branch across the street and the main branch’s future: “That place is utter chaos. And it will all come here – the noise, the teenage problems, the circulating DVDs.

Zounds.

It seems like the Village Voice wants to give the impression that being a librarian in NYC is to consign yourself to being powerless.

Luckily this is only relevant to NYC. Right? Surely, nobody could say this of librarians in Chicago? Or, California? What about in Michigan? How about Missouri? It’s getting tough out there for librarians. Powerless? It certainly seems that way. But even as librarians have fought, and rallied, they have still seen library hours reduced, budgets cut, and so forth. And it doesn’t look like those attacks are stopping, no matter how many hours our read-ins last, or no matter how many people we get to hug the library. Heck, the “library” section on The Huffington Post is actually called “Libraries in Crisis.
After the raid on the park, we heard from many people who were horrified by what had happened. And, honestly, it was pretty horrifying. But let’s be honest, libraries were under attack by Mayors before the People’s Library, and they will be after. Bloomberg was cutting the New York library budget’s before, and he’ll probably do it again in his coming budget. Rahm Emanuel in Chicago…the same. The discussion around libraries these days seems to be about cuts, and about whether or not libraries are relevant in today’s world. Librarians – who frequently find themselves in the ranks of those evil “public service workers” – are regularly under assault, and thus it is understandable if a feeling of powerlessness can begin to sink in.

I don’t agree with the Village Voice’s placement of the people’s library at 34. Were we technically powerless to stop Bloomberg’s “private army” from tossing the books in the dumpster; yes. But the library is much more than that, the movement is much more than that, and in the end they’re the ones powerless to stop it.

Powerlessness is what happens when you sit behind your desk and do nothing. Powerlessness is signing an online petition, or commenting on an article, or forwarding an e-mail. Powerlessness is doing nothing. And I can honestly say that the moment’s in my professional life when I feel the least powerless, occur when I’m doing OWS library work.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Betsy, Danny, Jaime, Mandy, NYPL, OccupyLibraries, Scholarship, Zach

the occupy wall street review

The Fiddler and a banjo beginner play old union songs in the night. And somewhere amidst the Beautiful Chaos of the Occupation comes whispers of what we are doing: “OCCUPY these areas [that we may] carry on [our]festive purposes for quite awhile in relative peace.”

this is a bootstrap operation

It was on October 9th, 2011, that the Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey was entered into the People’s Library database on Librarything, making it the first cataloged volume.
It wasn’t too long after that when a few of us huddled under shapeless  structures- makeshift and different everyday, like the rules imposed upon us by the men in dimly lit rooms- listening to the rain on the tarpaulin, discussing the T.A.Z., wondering just how ‘temporary’ our autonomous zone was.

the T.A.Z. must be capable of defense; but both the ‘strike’ and ‘defense’ should, if possible, evade the violence of the state which is no longer a meaningful voice.

the sound cannon, truncheons in gloved hands, the cleaning of pepper from the eyes of my friends, Orwellian visions.

often one returns to Liberty Plaza: vacant; lighted holiday trees; library space sans tombs; police-tape demarcating an unknown crime; strange encounters with uniformed men in mustaches.

there are waves nostalgia of course, but the sentimentalism dissipates, though never entirely; it lingers a safe distance away–never impeding future action– and allows me to somehow safely hold our encampment of guerilla ontologists in unforgettable synaptic locations.

“Why?”  I heard a woman say today, as I rounded the corner to a crowd of hundreds, a march and Solidarity Act, for those immigrated to this country.

must we wait until the entire world is freed of political control before even one of us can claim to know freedom?

the rain fell on tarps that night in october, we huddled and laughed, the Fiddler played from his bivouac, from somewhere under the sky we knew our Zone was temporary, we knew these as processes, and not merely results.

there are those that cling to the space–what we call Liberty Plaza.

But the TAZ liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to reform elsewhere, before the state can crush it.

as soon as it is named (represented) (mediated) it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk, only to spring up again somewhere else…

follow the seasons

hibernate

educate

[text in bold from the Temporary Autonomous Zone-- Anti-copyright, but still... used with permission]

the following precursory text of the OCCUPY WALL STREET REVIEW was made available at the request of Peter Lamborn Wilson for the occupiers on the day of action, D17.

visit

www.theowsreview.org

to read

OWS Act Two

from the author of

the Temporary Autonomous Zone

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Filed under #N17, 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Art, Digital Archive, Direct Action, Ephemera, Literature, Media, Music, Poetry, Process, Sean, Solidarity

Library = Crime?


What was once the People’s Library is now a crime scene.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Free Speech, Hristo, Photographs

Found journals from the raid on 11/15/2011

After the raid, we were given all of the books found by the sanitation department. This included many people’s personal journals. It is our duty to help return them to their rightful owners, so here we are. If anybody lost a journal that is featured in either photo, please get in contact with me, hristo@doctor.com or 646-220-5655. It is my personal contact to ensure that it doesn’t get lost in the mass mailing list that we have for the library. To ensure it is yours, I would need some sort of verification, any kind that shows you are the rightful owner of the journal through knowledge of what is inside. Please spread this around to anybody that may have lost a journal on the night of the raid.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction

Packed Press Conference Documents Ruins of Over 3,000 Books

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          CONTACT: press@occupywallst.org

For this event: Michael Oman-Reagan owspeopleslibrary@gmail.com

Occupy Wall St. Librarians Demand Accountability from Bloomberg for Destruction of Thousands of Books and NYers’ Rights to Free Expression

Packed Press Conference Documents Ruins of over 3,000 Books by Raid

The People’s Library was not only forcibly removed from Liberty Square in the early hours of November 15th and destroyed but – since the raid – has been harassed and prevented from operating in the park by the Bloomberg Administration. Only about 1,300 books – a third of the stock – were returned to them, they said, and around a third of those were damaged beyond repair. Only about 800 are still usable. About 3,000 books are still unaccounted for. Photos of the books are available here http://bit.ly/u4QeTP

Civil Rights lawyer, Norman Siegel, opened today’s press conference, at a table of damaged books, with his statement articulating the demands of the OWS Librarians: “The Bloomberg Administration needs to replace every book missing or damaged. Together about 3,161 books. We have the titles and authors. The Bloomberg Administration needs to acknowledge that a wrong was committed and that this can never happen again. We need a space to recreate the people’s library.”

Hawa Allan, a Fellow of Columbia Law School, added, “the People’s Library represents the town hall spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement.” Referring to the piles of destroyed books on the table, she also noted “This display is a chilling image of the attempt to destroy free expression.”

13 Librarians from the People’s Library were in attendance, and several spoke, talking about the important role the library played in the movement, as well as their own experiences of the raid and the aftermath. In response to questions from the press, the librarians stressed that their request is not about money, but rather about accountability and that they are asking the Bloomberg Administration to replace the books they destroyed, not write a check.

People’s Librarian, Betsy Fagin, stated, “What’s important isn’t just the cost of the books that were destroyed . . . The People’s Library was built entirely of generosity, of community spirit, of love.” Michele Hardesty described her visit to retrieve some of the seized books, “It was clear from what we saw at the sanitation garage that our books—the community’s books, these donated books—were treated as trash.”

People’s Librarian Danny Norton called the destruction of the library by the Bloomberg Administration a “crusade to destroy a conversation” and People’s Librarian Frances Mercanti-Anthony stated, “You can take our books. You can take our park. But you can’t take our spirit. And we’re not going anywhere.” In closing, Norman Siegel was asked about any planned legal action against the Bloomberg Administration, and he responded that he wasn’t going to answer any hypothetical questions, but said “in the words of Clint Eastwood, make my day.”

Coverage in the Guardian (UK) http://bit.ly/vMOCAD, New York Times http://nyti.ms/ugzNAi, Washington Post http://wapo.st/tF7Ptg, and Associated Press http://on.wsj.com/tnVm1m

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Library Press Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        CONTACT: press@occupywallst.org

For this event: William Scott, 412-390-6510

Occupy Wall Street Librarians Address Bloomberg for Destroying Books
Over 4k Books, Documents, Were Trashed by NYPD & Dept. of Sanitation in Raid

OWS Library Staff Recovers Books and Supplies, Less Than One-Fifth is Usable

What: Press conference to address the destruction of the OWS People’s Library by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the 11/15 raid.
*Photo Opportunity* All of the recovered, destroyed books will be at the press conference.
Where: 260 Madison Ave, 20th Floor, between 38th and 39th St
When: Wednesday, November 23, at 12:00 noon
Who: Norman Siegel will host and moderate. Speakers: Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyers Guild, Hawa Allan a Fellow at Columbia Law School, and Occupy Wall Street Librarians from the People’s Library. Law professors from Columbia, members of the American Library Association, various writers and others have been invited.

So far, the People’s Library has received 1,099 books back from the Dept. of Sanitation after last week’s raid (some of which were not library books to begin with), and out of these, about 800 are still usable. About 2,900 books are still unaccounted for, and less than one-fifth of the original collection is still usable. These numbers may change slightly when the People’s Library gets an exact count of the recent (and final) retrievals from Sanitation, but not considerably.

“The People’s Library was destroyed by NYPD acting on the authority of Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the night of the raid. In addition to all our supplies, laptops, and tent, they threw roughly 4,000 books into garbage trucks and dumpsters that were adjacent to the park, as well as assorted rare documents that were associated with OWS,” says William Scott, an Occupy Wall Street Librarian.

Watch video of the NYPD and Dept. of Sanitation destroying the OWS People’s Library tent and throwing away all the books. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTkUjQwHf4I

Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to more than 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. For more visit www.occupywallst.org

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Defending the People’s Library

. . . posted to our facebook wall.

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Destruction of the People’s Library

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