Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taking It To The Street

"There's something happening here
What it is, ain't exactly clear...."
It may be 44 years old, but Buffalo Springfield's iconic protest song could have been written about the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon. Here's what I find truly amazing: that along with food and rudimentary shelter, one of the first things to be organized in the week of September 17 - the very beginning of Occupied Wall Street - was a library.
A real library, with real books.
Members of the most digitally versed, technologically advanced, media savvy generation in the history of the world came together to make their voices be heard, and they made a library.
It started out in cardboard boxes. Later, donations of plastic bins and tarps better protected the collection from the elements. A call went out for librarians to volunteer their services to the People's Library, as it has been named, and the call was answered.

"Information is liberation. Offering people the opportunity to explore the world themselves through the written word is why I became a librarian. Connecting readers to writers is what I do. Doing that in the heart of what is rapidly growing into the strongest mass social movement since the 1960's is an experience I will always treasure." - Mandy, volunteer librarian.

The library continues to grow, and the collection is being cataloged. Borrowing is free, trading is encouraged, and if a patron would like to keep a book, that's fine: the librarians just ask to be notified so that they can remove the book from the catalog.
The People's Library has it's own website and Facebook page. Today, the Progressive Librarians Guild issued a statement in support of the initiative that reads, in part:

"We applaud the commitment and creativity being shown in providing a space for the articulation of opposition to the whole apparatus of the one-sided class war against workers, unions, the poor, immigrants, minorities, people of color, women, students and other sectors which make up the vast majority of Americans. We applaud the movement’s resistance to the greed,,injustice and inequality which is corroding the fabric of American society and its desire to imagine and help build a better future ,starting right now , for all Americans, by freeing ourselves from the destructive grip of unaccountable elites , insatiable profiteers and ruthless and cynical corporate plunderers.

We note that the Occupy Wall Street community has seen the need to create a “library” as part of its essential infrastructure even under the very difficult conditions under which the occupation has to operate in the streets. We call upon members of the Progressive Librarians Guild and all librarians of conscience to assist the movement with resources and technical aid. Please support the Occupation movement, document its development and report back to the library community to encourage greater understanding and wider support among our colleagues and in our communities."

Stop, hey, what's that sound?
It's the sound of pages turning in Liberty Park.

Donations of reading material for the People's Library can be sent to:
The UPS store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
Attn: The People's Library
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038

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