Was doing what we librarians do yesterday, cataloging and sorting new books. Got to talking from some folks from other working groups about what the library is up to these days, how we are interacting with other groups.
Anyway, it was suggested to me that we rebuild our sections that help facilitate the work of other groups, in particular legal. So, dear readers, if you are out there wondering what you can do for the library or what kind of materials we might want, here’s a suggestion:
Please send us current legal reference books. Especially useful would be things pertaining to New York State or New York City laws, and topics that might help with the kinds of things the Occupation is involved with — civil rights, housing, finance, non-profits, etc.
There’s a pamphlet going around camp & around the internet called dear occupiers, a letter from anarchists.
Here’s a link: dearoccupiers
There’s a section on Diversity of Tactics that seems especially relevant as we negotiate our relationship with the Finance Committee. I wanted to share it here:
“To have a diversity of participants, a movement must make space for a diversity of tactics. It’s controlling and self-important to think you know how everyone should act in pursuit of a better world. Denouncing others only equips the authorities to de-legitimize, divide, and destroy the movement as a whole. Criticism and debate propel a movement forward, but power grabs cripple it. The goal should not be to compel everyone to adopt one set of tactics, but to discover how different approaches can be mutually beneficial.”
Mmm, mutually beneficial. sounds nice, right? Let’s use all the tools in the box.
After spending far too long in the library this weekend, and anticipating the same for the coming days, I have a few suggestions for the upcoming week. Perhaps there will be some lulls in activity on weekdays that would permit some attention to these possible activities:
1. Bad weather contingency plan
We’ve done a great job of replacing the cardboard boxes with plastic containers. The library has expanded and feels more and more permanent every day. When the rain comes, however, much of our work will be endangered. Not just the books but also our signs and other supplies will need to be protected and perhaps not with much notice. I suggest we come up with a plan for bad weather, equip ourselves appropriately, and perhaps even do a practice pack-up drill. For not so bad weather, we can remain open to patrons in a limited capacity. In severe weather, we may need to close up shop until it passes.
2. Police crackdown contingency plan
In the (unlikely?) event that our beautiful behinds get booted from the plaza or in case of any other police action that threatens the integrity of the library, we should have some plan for storing the books and supplies until we can rebuild and restore the collection in its original location or elsewhere. I have no idea how to accomplish this, especially if the end comes without warning, but I think it’s worth discussing. OWS has storage now and many of us have cars, Zipcar memberships, and storage space in our own homes, for starters.
3. Library events—author visits, etc.
I’m going to try and convince some local authors to visit the library and speak to patrons. The speakers who’ve come to the plaza have been great, but the enormous number of people and the use of the people’s microphone does limit what they can say and precludes more intimate interaction. I was inspired by the small group that met on the steps by the library last night to talk to the author of The Vagina Monologues (I think that’s what happened). I would like to make this more regular. Rather than having scheduled mega-events with activist authors coming to pep talk the whole occupation, I would prefer smaller, impromptu groups and a books-oriented approach to fit with our little niche mission. My idea is to ask authors to come talk about the “books that have inspired you” and then whatever else they want. We can post announcements in advance on a dry erase board and/or make an announcement when someone arrives. Then, whoever happens to be around can come check it out. If it’s only a few people, I see no problem with that. Whatever stimulates conversations, and huge groups don’t allow it so much. I feel this is a good role for our library.