inTouch: The Occupy Wall Street Protest Has Its Own Library
As CBS News points out, “Occupy Wall Street” isn’t your average protest: “Yoga classes are taught in off hours.” The camp even has a medical tent, and its own newspaper, called The Occupied Wall Street Journal.
Although the initial spark for the protest came by way of the Canadian magazine Adbusters, it is very modern and very American sort of protest. USA Today reports that The Occupied Wall Street Journal has a website with “a link that allows supporters elsewhere to order and pay for pies that a New York pizzeria then delivers to the park.” The protesters are feeding their minds and doing what they can to feed the world the messages they think are the most important…they are also staying fed.
And interestingly enough, there’s a makeshift library that has at least 1,500 books.
Alexia Nader of The New Yorker‘s Book Bench blog went to visit the library back on September 29th and discovered “…a volume of Walter Benjamin’s writing sits beside Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Prep”; the only books that are sectioned off are the children’s books.” For a makeshift library, they’ve got range, and one can’t expect it to function like an actual library. By the time Kirkus Reviews arrived, the books were grouped in categories. Although the library itself isn’t exactly organized, it has been cataloged. Mediabistro’s Galleycat blog notes that you don’t have to be there to get an idea of what is in the library because “thanks to Library Thing, you can now explore the library online and watch it grow.”
It is not all serious books or political stuff, either. There’s Animal Farm by George Orwell and Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville but there’s also a copy of a book “written” by Jessica Fletcher, the character Angela Lansbury played on the television series Murder She Wrote.
The Occupy Wall Street Library was started when Betsy Fagin, a trained librarian, saw an unattended stack of books on the ground in the protest camp and went to an organizational meeting to ask about starting a library. She posted a sign asking for donations and the library has received contributions from people who are actively involved in the protest and from people who aren’t. As you would expect for such a protest, the library works on the honor system, so there are no due dates or fines collected.
Fagin told Nader, “Some of the protesters had begun holding poetry readings; and if I were to visit after sunset, I might see several of them huddled over novels, reading by candlelight.”
Fagin’s initiative demonstrates how we can be useful when we put our talents to work. Rather than try to do what was already being done or telling herself she had little to add, she offered the training she did have.