Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Presentation by OWS-NY Librarians

. . . here; a great read. In one part I especially liked, they read a letter they'd received from protest librarians elsewhere:

Hi Peoples Library!

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

. . . . 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.

. . . [D]uring 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 through. The media described us as bums, the government as the most dangerous kind of terrorists (the pacifists kind) and we slept always waiting for the final police riot that would throw everything down. . . . 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 . . . .

* * * * *

Pd[sic]: Sorry for our lousy English.
[Emphasis and minor editing supplied.]

Among other interesting items from the OWS-NY librarians' presentation, they mentioned that prior to the Nov. 15 eviction, their library had catalogued 4,000 books, and they had a tent, shelves, tables, chairs, bins, laptops, and misc. supplies. As part of the post-midnite, surprise eviction, virtually all of it was hauled off by NY authorities in garbage trucks. "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." In fact, the librarians were able to recover only 802 of the library's books, nearly 300 of which were in only marginally usable condition, and none of the other property.

Lots more at the link, including a description of the library's innovative organizational/decision-making structure/procedure.

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