The Occupation Has a Library

Occupy Wall Street library

There’s an occupation in my city – maybe in yours, too.

The activity itself is born of the frustration, rage, and inspiration of people who are looking for alternatives to the current corporatist state of things, but of course there’s also work to be done within the movement.  People are working to “counter the images of brogressivism and manarchism” and questioning why we don’t seem to be trying to decolonize instead of “occupy.” These are voices that are marginalized within the language of the “99 Percent.”  (Also, I wish the goddamn drumming would stop during the General Assemblies.)

And word is out about the Occupy Wall Street library.  It’s got a website and a hashtag.  It’s been evolving in leaps and bounds – I’ve been to the occupation three times now, and at first the books were in one sort of spread, then they were in cardboard boxes sorted by genre, and now they’ve moved up to waterproof plastic bins.  They’ve got a bin full of zines!  All of the books have “OWSL” written on the tops of the pages!

There was steady browsing when I was hanging around last night taking photos.  It looks like some folks from NYC Radical Reference are going down there on Friday night.  I’d like to be around to help more, but I don’t have a lot of free time (and fortunately for me it’s not all because I’m working for The Man – or because, as a waiter acquaintance said yesterday, “I serve the One Percent”).

A message is going around from “the librarians of #occupywallstreet” that says in part:

We need books of resistance and people’s history. We need economics and finance books. We need contemporary philosophy and ecology. We especially need non-English books and materials for low literacy readers. […] We also need you. Our collection is growing rapidly and we need help organizing it and keeping it orderly. We want to save the time of our readers, but to do that we need help marking, sorting, and shelving materials. We need help building our catalog and writing our history. Our readers are enthusiastic and some of them need help finding the right book. The right book for the right reader is fundamental to successful librarianship, so we need public services folks to come out and conduct reference interviews with people and help them find ‘their’ book. The Library is constantly evolving and changing and we invite you to be a part of it.

Ranganathan + protest, I love it!

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

6 comments on “The Occupation Has a Library

  1. Melissa, Glad to know you are on the scene to give us reports! Can you tell us a little more about how Radical Reference is involved?

  2. Jenna has a report-back from Friday night (I wasn’t there) on the Rad Ref site. Alycia has a short post with another photo and also reports that “[b]lankets, sleeping bags, warm clothes, tarps, and rain gear seem to be the best things to bring for the people of OWS, and zines and other reading materials, flashlights, markers and waterproof containers are what the library needs most.”

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