OWS Library: A Storify History

Pieces covering the OWS Library and related events abound, but I wanted to try my hand at both using Storify and at collecting/connecting some of this material about the library.

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  1. As recounted on their blog, the OWS Library has been going for nearly as long as the occupation itself. Starting out as a small collection of books, the library grew.

    "As the week went on, more books and more people joined the library. The library collection grew exponentially." 
  2. Day 9 Occupy Wall Street September 25 2011 Shankbone 34
  3. David Shankbone has a wealth of great photographs from the occupation on his Flickr page. This one shows the OWS library after a week.
  4. Books have been used at various protests around the world because they are more than just tomes filled with theories, characters and ideas - they are also symbols of engagement with those theories/ideas and with the world. The books of a library, especially a library based in a radically-minded occupation, signify values of education, free speech and the free sharing of knowledge.  In other words, those values which mainstream politics professes but has regularly failed to live up to. 

  5. In a nice report featured in DIY media paper The Occupied Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Sacks wrote about the development of the library. She highlights the wide variety of writers and works at the library, representing the diverse politics of the occupation, as well as the importance of sharing ideas:

    "Howard Zinn is here. Dominick Dunne and Tom Wolfe, too. Ernest Hemingway and Barbara Ehrenreich and Dr. Who and Beowulf."
     
    "That a lending library would spring up fully operational on day one of an occupation makes sense when you consider that the exchange of ideas is paramount here, at a new crossroads of the world."
  6. It did not take long for more and more books to be donated, and having secured the library against the weather, OWS Library organised their catalog and collection using LibraryThing, which had given them a lifetime membership. 
  7. The First Eviction Attempt

  8. Having dealt with police removing their tarps and the difficulties of keeping a library outdoors, the OWS Library faced another challenge when the occupation squared off with NYPD and City Hall in the first eviction attempt. Drawing from their own history page again:

    "As part of the eviction resistance, half of the library collection was moved off-site and the remainder was bundled up to protect it."
  9. The top sign seen here proved to be correct. OWS Library survived and was still working on the second point at the time of writing. 
  10. Rebuild

  11. Peoples Library Occupy Wall Street 2011 Shankbone
  12. The OWS Library was rebuilt to look like this. At this point they had also apparently built up quite a collection of archival materials: press, notes, minutes, etc. Over time the library had become a focal point for information and visitors, hosting teach-ins and having writers such as Pulitzer winning novelist Jennifer Egan drop by. 
  13. The occupation and particularly the library has received and continues to receive huge support from writers around the world.
  14. Librarians also continued to defend the library against attempts by the police to take down their tents and otherwise interfere with its operation. 
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