Bloomberg's Bibliocide? Update on Confiscated "People's Library" Books

The OWS People's Library was confiscated during the Tuesday night raiid, angering the public who rightly were horrified by images of books--particularly a lovingly-curated collection of donated and crowdsourced books--being destroyed.

The Mayor's Office, sensing this PR disaster, tweeted this morning that supplies had been recovered, including the library.

But when protesters returned, they were disgusted, finding trashed books, ruined laptops and much missing:

One of our librarians Zach came up with a partial list of what was taken (see below) and it’s looking like only a few boxes of books and our (destroyed) laptops and one chair were at Sanitation. Our people on the ground report that “A lot is destroyed . . . more may (or may not) be coming out of their giant trashpile at back of building.” But it’s obvious to me that by recklessly throwing the contents of the park into dumpsters, the NYPD and DSNY working under Bloomberg’s orders destroyed what we built. And that their claim that the library was “safely stored” was a lie.

A few hours later, it seemed like less than half the library was salvaged, much in awful condition.

Douglas Rushkoff urges those disheartenedby this to regroup and restart and take the library for a metaphor:

A book can have more influence for being destroyed than having existed in the first place. This week isn't the first time my books have been destroyed, but it's probably the most significant....Remember, though, the People's Library is less about the books sitting in the reference section at Zuccotti Park than the extended network of books being shared and read by real people in the real world...Likewise, while the Occupation of Zuccotti and other places may serve as "reference" points, the real occupation is embodied by those of us in the real world who change our behaviors to reflect our values, and who stand up for what we believe in the conversations occurring all around us. 

 Jeff Sharlet of started the Twitter hashtag #BloombergBibliocide to register dissent. 

While the library is being restored, the police have refused to let librarians cover the books with garbage bags on this rainy day.

Here's an update from (who else?) American Libraries Magazine:


The library was immediately restarted with a half a dozen paperbacks. Within two hours the collection was up to over 100 volumes and the library was fully functioning—cataloging, lending, and providing reference services. “The library is still open” was repeated like a mantra...During the reoccupation on the evening of November 15, it started to rain so library staff put a clear plastic trash bag over the collection. Within minutes a detail of about 10 police descended and demanded that the covering be removed because they deemed the garbage bag to be a tarp. There were a few tense minutes as staff tried to convince them otherwise, but ultimately it was removed—leaving the collection open to the elements. As the police withdrew, scores of people chanted “BOOKS …BOOKS … BOOKS … BOOKS.” ... Library staff quickly set up umbrellas over the bulk of the books and began sending librarians home with bags of books to keep the collection safe in remote locations.



AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at November 16, 2011, 8:16am