Y’all, we’ve a working group meeting tomorrow, Sunday, April 29. It’s the last chance we have to get ourselves settled before May Day, so everyone please show up.
6pm by the Gandhi statue in Union Square.
Y’all, we’ve a working group meeting tomorrow, Sunday, April 29. It’s the last chance we have to get ourselves settled before May Day, so everyone please show up.
6pm by the Gandhi statue in Union Square.
Hey library peeps, spring is upon us and I’m interested in finally nailing down a community agreement within our working group. We’ve danced around this for months now and I think we should finally be finished with it and agree on laying out our expectations of each other and what acceptable behavior in our working group looks like. Below is a copy of the agreement that recently passed Spokes Council. I think it’s a good template for us to work with. As Scales recommended awhile ago, I’m posting this on the blog so that we can discuss and hammer it out transparently, not just behind the veil of email.
STATEMENT OF INTENTION UPON ENTERING THE SPACE
(in multiple languages)
I enter this space with an open mind, heart, and attitude.
I ask for and respect the consent, boundaries, and needs of those around me.
I support the empowerment of each person in order to subvert the histories and structures of oppression that marginalize and divide us.
I hold myself accountable to community decisions and will work for, care for, and defend our community.
If I violate community agreements, or act in a way that harms the community, I will remove myself from this physical space.
(a living document)
COMMITMENT TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY
We accept a shared responsibility in holding one another accountable to these agreements. If we feel that an agreement is not being respected we will express that concern without violence, judgment or assumption of intent by others. As a community, we commit to developing creative and transformative ways to address harm. In all cases where someone is harmed, we affirm the experience and decisions of the person harmed in guiding our responses and next steps, while allowing all parties involved to transform the cycles of abuse and violence.
If an individual disrespects community agreements we will collectively implement the 6-step de-escalation process, which may result in an individual being removed from the space. We will work to coordinate with organizations that assist individuals who are overcoming addiction or who have committed abuse or violence.
Those who have committed harm in this space or who have been called out for harm in the past and whose presence limits the participation of others in this movement may need to leave until the harm has been addressed.
Library working group meeting minutes
19 February 2012
60 Wall Street Atrium, 6 pm
Present: Antonia, Josh, Germ, Dee, Dylan, Charlie, Darah, Frances, Betsy, Danny, Mark, Jaime, James
Facilitation: going rogue: this meeting is freestyle
Illuminator: description– debut in the park Friday 3/3. who wants to step up for this? maybe Danny maybe Charlie. Q: will we get arrested? A: Betsy will find out about arrestability & reportback.
Tucson: 7 books banned. details of our action. operation book bomb w/Occupy Tucson. we’re having a book donation drive town square 2/26 sunday in tompkins square park—spanish language books. books on mexican history, latino culture. we’re hoping to have teach-ins: Mexican history/culture. now looking for folks to do teach ins. 11-5 pm. it might rain. bring tarps and bags. need help with collecting and transporting books.
2nd event: Thursday march 1st 176st and Broadway 4157 Broadway at WordUP. with Chris Hedges. I know folks have beef with Chris Hedges right now. If you’d like to have a word with him, please come to our event on the 1st.
Donated books are coming into SIS. pls leave them in the boxes and don’t tag them.
Q: how are we getting books to Tucson? A: as cheap & green as possible. libro traficante hasn’t gotten back yet. they’re driving from TX. our goal is the collecting the books & having teach-ins. the situation in AZ is really grave right now. stories coming out every day abt kids coming home & illegal immigrant parents being deported…solidarity w/AZ. how this is racist bullshit. please help on Sunday.
We need to load books from SIS Friday or Saturday depending on when they’re open. empty bins and tarps. Frances will find out when they’re open & report back. POI: Gina lives nearby—maybe set up there.
Richard Delgado is sending a bunch of books—his and a bunch of others. Molly’s drawing a new flyer and a stamp. Don’t stamp Tucson books, we’re gifting them.
Q: what about bookmarks for the books? A: great idea. Catherine sent an email. we’ll get back to her.
Any leads on wheels for Scales? talk to bike coalition. talk to mandolin.
F29 major action: Occupy Portland call to boycott ALEC– legislation that attacks unions. American Legislative Exc alecexposed.com 50 occupations involved. will target alec members in their cities: BofA, Pfizer, Koch brothers. all right on 42nd nr bryant park. Koch bros farther north. occ town sq is doing 26th, on 29th we’re asking all working groups not just DA but OWS—set up in Bryant Park
Q: what abt ice rink etc? A: 9 am start on stairs. gathering place for OWS as a whole. marches will start from there. however, any march doing high risk activities will not come back to pop-up occ. they’ll meet farther away so it doesn’t affect. an occupation to gather, start marches from. F29 9am. wrap up around mid-afternoon. teach ins, fun actions: plus brigade, bike coalition.
Corner libraries w/Colin. who has spaces they can work with. what’s worked & hasn’t. if anybody’s got a good spot, let’s talk. different tactics in different neighborhoods.
Chicago: move-in starting May 1st eventhough we’re doing things here as well. G8/NATO! Jaime will be there 18-21st probably. 2 purposes: librarians from other occupations will get face-time w/each other. also organizing: count yr people and form affinity grps. form them ahead of time, start talking in March—circulation and reference. Radical reference & other radical grps. arrestability levels. who can go & who wants to go. Occupy Chicago library has indoor space. FYI: it’s going to be a fucking mess. know that. high security. if you’re zero arrest—don’t go.
Carmine Street space: Un-oppressive non-imperialist bargain books. Charlie reports back—our library satellite branch should be up and running in the next 2 weeks. it’s getting cleaner.
Revolution Books is excited about us, has books to donate. They’re glad we still exist.
World Book Night— Danny heard about this on glisten (lib sch listserv—can we get on it?). Betsy’s trying to see if we can get free books even though the deadline has passed.
Q: who’s got a library that’s still standing. Nashville still has a camp. DC. Raleigh’s getting raided. general discussion ensues.
end of meeting
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
[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.
OWS Act Two
from the author of
the Temporary Autonomous Zone
It seems to be the phrase of the Occupation, and especially apt in the past week or so.
There was the Law & Order set thing. In case you missed it, dear readers, Law and Order: SVU built a fake occupy camp in Foley Square last week, as a set for an episode. It had tents, a kitchen, a library, police presence, all that stuff. Of course, the real occupiers found it, and, late on Thursday night, occupied it. I ask you — did they think we wouldn’t? You can find info on twitter and elsewhere about it under the hash tag #mockupy. Mother Jones has a short article on it, with video featuring some of the real librarians from the People’s Library.
A while back we instituted an infrequently-used hand signal at library meetings to go with all the up-sparkling, down-sparkling, points of process, and so forth: the clarifying mustache. You take the curved pointer finger part of the clarifying question signal and put it over your upper lip. It means that things have gotten completely ridiculous, and we all need to take a Dada break. With the mockupation, the universe seems to have gotten on board with it, no?
In amongst the absurdity is the former location of the People’s Library in Zuccotti Park. In the first few days after the eviction last month, the people’s librarians were persistent in reopening the library. Over and over and over again. We were some of the first folks back in the park that morning — until we were kicked out again — and we’ve since had as much presence as the NYPD and Brookfield security dudes will allow on any given day. Recently that hasn’t been much.
A couple weeks ago the security dudes put up some red cloth “Danger!” tape between the trees in the northeast corner of the park, blocking off the benches where the Library used to be. The official reason was to protect the brand new ornamental cabbages that Brookfield had planted in the garden area above the benches. Cabbages that they had to tear out the existing bushes to plant, let me add. If you think that sounds completely ridiculous, take a moment to make the clarifying mustache signal with me.
After we spent some time scratching our heads, and occasionally disregarding the red tape — it was, after all, blocking off a good portion of the seating in the park — the absurdity increased. We got this:
See, among us persistent librarians, there’s one particularly persistent librarian. For the terrible crime of bringing books into the park he’s been bum rushed by a score of cops and nearly arrested, had some of the books confiscated, and, now, been banned from the park. The above document is the result of the confiscation. After those five very dangerous books were taken — we are told that one may not put books on the bench, because it prevents people from sitting there — the police delivered this kind note to the park. Not to the Library or to a librarian, but just to the park, asking that it be passed along to Library. Now, I know that’s more or less how it work here on the movement side of things, but I’m pretty sure the cops’ rules require them to be a little more diligent than that.
Since then, the red tape blocking off the former location of the People’s Library has been replaced by authentic yellow “Crime Scene Do Not Cross” cop tape. (Someone should confiscate that, it’s preventing me from sitting on the bench.) Do you have that clarifying mustache ready? Because I know we joke a bunch about how the City has been making books illegal, but someone obviously lacks in the irony department; how else to explain the utter tone-deafness of this whole thing?
Anyway, for once the NYPL has taken good care of our confiscated stuff. Which means we’ll surely be making the trip up to 1 Police Plaza to reclaim it shortly. I hope you’ll join us.
In the mean time, at least the current Christmas light overkill on all the trees in Zuccotti throws off enough glow to read by?
Would you like to open a People’s Library branch in your neighborhood? WNYC’s Brian Leher Show and The New York World are collaborating on a map of all the Privately-Owned Public Spaces (POP) in New York. Zucotti Park (Liberty Plaza), for example, is a POP.
One of the amazing things about the Occupy movement is how the model is open source and free. You can take what we’re doing at OWS and set it up wherever you are. That also applies to the People’s Library model. What we’ve built here is a set of practices that can be deployed wherever you are. So, if you’d like to open a branch of the People’s Library in your New York neighborhood, find a POP, bring down some books and meet your neighbors. It all starts with a few books in a box.
November 6, 2011, 6 pm, People’s Library
Jaime=facilitator, Charlie=stack tacker, Betsy=minutes
present: Jaime, Bill, Charlie, Michelle, Stephen B., Megan, Betsy, Hristo, Frances, Hamaz (sorry if I missed anybody)
Setting the Agenda
Jaime & Betsy: Who’s going and who wants to go, details. Betsy was invited by the ALA Conference Planning Manager to present at this year’s Midwinter conference. Betsy negotiated w/ALA to pay airfare & hotel for more of us to attend & present collaboratively. Betsy, Mandy and Zach are all scheduled to attend. We want to talk about who else wants to go, how to pay for it and to co-ordinate flight & hotel information so we can go together if possible. The conference is in Dallas from Jan 20-24, 2012. Our panel is scheduled for 8:30-9:30 am on Saturday Jan. 21st. I’ll email the group my flight details & hope Mandy & Zach can do the same. We decided to table this issue to discuss later because a lot of people were missing from the meeting.
Frances: Monday night’s spokes council meeting at Murry Bergtraum High School 411 PEARL STREET (Just East of City Hall) at 7:30PM will determine whether groups are operational groups or movement groups. We discussed the differences between the two and worked on filling out the form we need to submit tomorrow at spokes council. Basically, operational groups handle day-to-day operations within the park and are different from movement groups which address/represent concerns that are movement-wide. We consensed (is that really a word?) that we are an operational group. It is essential that our space exists within the park, we serve a vital function & take up space in a way that is very similar to comfort or kitchen. We provide a safe, welcoming open space within the park. Being a caucus with other groups (like info or media) doesn’t mean that we lose power, it’s just a change in position within the spokes council. We agreed that becoming an operational group is the way to go & if that’s not possible for some reason, we would like to be an independent caucus. We occupy a lot of park real estate & have a lot of stuff. The library serves as a support to other caucuses.
Hristo proposed we all get matching tattoos. Tabled for later discussion.
Bill reports that he was approached recently by someone offering the library office space. That person should be contacting us soon via email. We discussed and agreed that it would be nice to have a place to get some work done out of the cold as long as it’s within walking distance. SIS doesn’t really want us in their space anymore, even for cataloging.
Michelle: the Melville marathon reading is coming up Thursday at 3 pm at 60 Wall street. Let’s promote it. She’s going to make fliers.
Hamaz: there’s a Jazz club in Brooklyn at the Senior Citizens center that’s got a lot of civil rights activists involved. 966 Fulton Friday night. He proposes a field trip. C train to Clinton-Washington
Stephen B: the poetry anthology is now being printed, bound and sold at cost. It will be $10 plus shipping & handling and will be printed as ordered. It will be available in the library in the next couple of days. He would like help with setting up a link to a paypal account on the website. Also, he’s been invited to speak/read on Sirius satellite radio the night before Thanksgiving and would like people to send him 1 line of gratitude: what you’re thankful for to his email address so he can read it out on the show. stephenjboyer AT gmail DOT com
Frances: is making a library guide in google docs and would like everyone’s input. It will be a basic guide for people who are new to the library for our practices and ways they can help when they arrive. Please add ideas. Also, Frances will be occupying the Magic Kingdom for the next week.
We all like theory around here, right? That’s what draws many of us to the library — the dusty ideas in dustier books; considering Simone de Beauvoir to be light reading (it wasn’t in the original French, ok?); spouting off lines of Ginsberg and then dressing down the privilege found in white, male Beat lives; quoting Hegel or Marx; fan-boying over Naomi Klein or Johanna Lawrenson or any of our other illustrious visitors.
Let me give you some library theory, then.
Maybe half of us in the working group are MLS-bearing librarians (that’s master’s degree in library science for the lay-folks) or are in library school. Other folks can speak for themselves, but I’m probably not the only one who went into librarianing partially due to my intense need to organize stuff. (I’m probably also not the only one who also did it as political praxis, either.) I could catalogue all the live-long day, and some days I do, happily parked in front of our LibraryThing for hours on end.
That said, you may have noticed that the OWS Library is possibly the least organized library ever. It lives in a bunch of plastic tubs, sorted by genre. We do not use Dewey, Library of Congress, Cutter (you’ve heard of Cutter, right?), or any other call number classification system. We don’t check books in or out in any formal way. When asked if we have a specific title, the answer usually is, “I saw a copy a couple days ago,” and if asked where exactly a book might be, it’s, “Possibly over there in history, or maybe you could check the reference crates.”
Needless to say, since we’re in it for the organization, sometimes this drives certain librarians, present company included, around the bend a little.
Much of the disorganization arises from the specific issues facing the kind of library we run. To quote a fellow librarian’s recent Facebook status, “To file under ‘problems I never imagined I’d have’: Trouble completing a make-shift tarp-shelter over an illegal outdoor library because Alec Baldwin kept getting in my way…” We have an extremely limited amount of space, and we are outside at the mercy of the elements, deeply envious of Occupy Boston’s tents. We have a very limited supply of power from generators and batteries, and a little bit of internet access. The library is open from whenever people get up in the morning until it slows down in the evening and the live-in contingent of librarians set out their bedding for the night. We have staff meetings to reach consensus on questions such as what to do if the cops forcibly evict the Occupation (answer: evacuate the archives, supplies, and electronics ahead of time, the books stay till the bitter end).
So then, to wend my way around to what I’m actually writing about today, what are any the guiding principles of the librarianing we do at the OWS Library?
Out in the normal library world, there are two basic elements of library work: cataloguing and reference. Cataloguing, or arrangement and description for you archivist types, includes in-taking new materials, creating card or database catalogue entries, categorizing materials, assigning location identifiers, shelving, etc. Reference work is connecting people and their needs to materials and information, answering questions, locating materials that are out there in the collection. At the OWS Library, our work is a little different, but still falls into these two basic divisions — we intake books, catalogue them in LibraryThing, stamp or sticker or write on them to mark them as part of the collection, sort them out into genre and subject bins, resort things that have been returned, help people find the books they are looking for, make reading recommendations, answer endless questions about how the library works or when and where something is happening or, to mention two reference questions I’ve answered recently, find an out-of-towner the address of a benefit concert somewhere uptown and subway directions to it, and explain the meaning of “ecology” to a non-native English speaker.
The cataloging and sorting is not particularly intellectually taxing work, which means that we can explain the basics to new members of the working group in a couple minutes. Since this is the People’s Library, we also allow more leeway in categorization than a traditional library would — librarians make autonomous decisions about where an item is shelved (or reshelved — in tidying up yesterday I found a Jean M. Auel novel in Kids & Young Adult and immediately moved it to general fiction; for those unfamiliar with her books, and if a survey of my friends is correct, they are pretty much every teenage girl’s first foray into erotica).
But, back to my question: how do we decide where things go, how do we arrange the books, how do we hold off the chaos?
My answer is always use. Use, use, use, use. How do our readers use the library? If they were looking for a specific work, where might they think to look for it first? Where might we put it that would make it easy to say, “ah, that’d be in the x section.” If a reader is looking in a specific section, what books will they be delighted to find there?
This is why I’m mostly okay with the controlled chaos that characterizes the library most of the time. Even though it grows every day, we have only about 3000 volumes in the park (the catalogue lists 3,344 at the moment, but some are out being read). That sounds like a lot, and is vastly more than most people have in their own personal collections — I’m an unrepentant bibliophile, but my collection is only a third of that — but it’s not endless, and it doesn’t approach the holdings of most public libraries. What I’m saying is that, sorted out into topics and genres as we have it now, and without specific call numbers and shelf locations, a person can still find what they want. One can eyeball the whole of non-fiction in a few minutes. There aren’t so many bins that if Religion is five feet away from where it was yesterday a reader or librarian won’t be able to find it.
A week or so ago, a young man asked me why all the non-English works were in the same bin. My answer was that they all fit in the same bin. Despite specifically asking for more material in a variety of languages, we still don’t have much. Fiction and non-fiction, Spanish, French, Chinese — it’s all in the same bin. The principle of use says that this currently works. If a reader comes looking for book in a language other than English, we’ll always know where to direct them. And then once they are at the bin, there are only twenty or thirty books in it, so that person will not need to spend much time at all looking through it for works in their language. Especially because we have limited space, it doesn’t make sense to have mostly empty bins with only a few books in them, as would happen if we separated these books. I assured my questioner that, when we’d gotten enough books to separate them into bins for fiction/non-fiction, or into different languages, we surely would separate them. Because, again: use. At that point ease of use would dictate that all the Spanish books go together, or all the fiction, so that we’d still be sending our readers to a single place for a single kind of book.
So, when an anxious, newly anointed People’s Librarian asks me where they might shelve a particular book, I shrug and tell them to put it where they think it might go, where they might expect to find it if they were looking for it. Their opinion on the matter is as valid as mine; after all, you don’t need a master’s degree to be one of the People’s Librarians, and they are readers and users of the library just as much as I am. We’ve democratized the work, direct-democratized it even, since to become a People’s Librarian you just show up and start sorting and cataloguing.
And, if one of the guiding principles that we can draw from the normal library world and repurpose for our own needs at the People’s Library is use, perhaps I should re-resort that Auel novel back into YA, since, as I said, it has an strong tradition of use among YA readers.
Following are the meeting minutes for the October 22nd Library Working Group Meeting. The agenda items are listed first, and the minutes are after the fold (click “continue reading” to see the minutes in full).
On Saturday we had our first formal working group meeting at the library. Prior to this meeting, our decision making process has been to reach consensus within the group who are on the ground at the library or through conversations on this blog. On Saturday, we put the same process used by the General Assembly into use and spent three hours discussing the items on our agenda (agenda items were posted in advance here). Minutes from our meeting will be posted soon, in the meantime, here are photos of the process in action at your library.
While the General Assembly meetings serve as a forum for participation, decision making and announcements about the movement and occupation as a whole (as well as report-backs from working groups), a working group is a decision making body for a specific project within the occupation of Liberty Plaza. Both General Assemblies and Working Groups use the same process for conducting meetings. The meeting is facilitated by a facilitator and a stack keeper. People are also responsible for checking the vibe (the feeling and response of the group) as well as taking minutes.
The process involves many tools for giving everyone a voice, for respecting speaking and listening and for using hand signals. This video on YouTube is a good introduction to how it works.