After the New York Mayor’s office assured the world via Twitter that the Occupy Wall Street library was “safely stored,” it has become apparent that the statement was a half-truth at best.
According to the OWS Library blog:
“Many books destroyed. Most equipment — and structures missing … most of library is missing (ALL of the reference section btw), damaged or destroyed.”
They also list everything that was missing as of November 16:
- Between 2,000 and 4,000 books (we’ll know if it looks right when we see it ), this includes five boxes of “Reference” materials many of which were autographed by the authors
- Our custom made “OWS library stamps”
- 5 (4?) laptop computers
- Our wifi device
- miscellaneous paper supplies
- A round portable table
- a rectangular portable table
- 6 metal shelves (five of which had been set up in two pieces)
- three sets of wooden drawers
- a periodicals spinning rack
- Approximately 60 plastic tubs/bins of varying sizes (most small, but several big)
- archival materials (I was starting to collect some stuff in the library)
- posters (including many original posters created by OWS participants)
- two lamps
- four solar lights
- 7 (or so) chairs
- a wooden dinner table (that was our’s right?)
- periodicals/newspapers/zines (not counted in our book total)
- our awesome tent
- personal belongings of librarians
Singer/songwriter/poet Patti Smith sent the OWS Library a poem on the occasion of the police raid:
i am with you all from across the sea
every concert, interview etc
i call out to occupy and support those
what you are doing is only a beginning.
if it gets too tough in the winter
get healthy regroup and come back.
don’t be sorry about anything.
give everyone a salute from me
people have the power
The American Library Association president released a statement expressing “alarm” at the seizure of the OWS library. She is quoted as saying:
“The dissolution of a library is unacceptable. Libraries serve as the cornerstone of our democracy and must be safeguarded. An informed public constitutes the very foundation of a democracy, and libraries ensure that everyone has free access to information.
The very existence of the People’s Library demonstrates that libraries are an organic part of all communities. Libraries serve the needs of community members and preserve the record of community history. In the case of the People’s Library, this included irreplaceable records and material related to the occupation movement and the temporary community that it represented.
We support the librarians and volunteers of the Library Working Group as they re-establish the People’s Library.”
And the NYPD continues to hamper the effforts of the OWS library to re-establish the cultural resource:
The NYPD seized the People’s Library again tonight. We set up the library again today with 100 books, and the police came over this evening and stood in a line around the books, blocking anyone from reaching the books by creating a fence with their batons. The officers then ordered the Brookfield property sanitation crew to throw them in a trash can. We photographed it all, and video is available on the blog here. The police were asked why they were taking the books and one officer said “I don’t know.”
Finally, we’d like to share three poignant tweets by art blogger Barry Hoggard, who raises some good questions about the legality of the NYPD offensive against the OWS Library:
UPDATED: Seattle Book News tweeted this tidbit that is particularly chilling since we like to think that New York is one of the most civilized cities in the world and the treatment of libraries is often indicative of a society’s level of sophistication and civilization: