Rad Ref at Occupy Wall Street : one report back

Last night 8-10 members and friends of Rad Ref NYC visited the People's Library at the Wall Street Occupation. We helped process books for the library, which Library Journal says is growing at 30-50 books per day.

That's Alycia on the left, an OWS Librarian in the middle, I think Lauren on the right, and my hands on the bottom right.

Alycia made cute pin-on patches. Here's one on my backpack

And one in the library

When we arrived it was so crowded in Zuccotti Park that you could barely move. There are areas marked off for the library ♥, an information center, food, clothing drop-off, media, meetings, and protesters sleep wherever they can, like this one:

While hundreds of us did our thing in the Zuccotti, a reported thousand more gathered for Kol Nidre services across the street including a cop minyan.

But what was it like? is what a lot of folks outside the NY Metro area are probably wondering. I was only there two hours, so I'm certainly not an expert, but what I perceived was general feeling of hope, excitement, and power, perhaps like some people felt when Obama was elected. But this time, people are counting on themselves and each other, not a politician to make things right, including making a library that's open all the time to anyone who wants to borrow materials, without any sort of ID. I'm not saying that all libraries can operate that way, but it's beautiful to see the sharing going on at the People's Library, where anyone can be a librarian. That's not to say that librarians don't have something to contribute, e.g., we instituted putting the OWSL stickers on the books' spines instead of their backs. ☺

It was great to be there for myself, but also as a member of Radical Reference, a collective of library workers and students who like to be directly involved in protests, supporting them and taking place. One member brought up the idea of making a statement, à la PLG in support of the occupation. For better or for worse, that's not what we do. Around our founding, before the Republican National Convention in NYC in 2004 we discussed signing onto a statement of nonviolence, I think it was, and a heated email list argument erupted. We decided, passively or actively, I'm not sure which, that we weren't going to have a structure, a governing body, a central committee, or anything like that, and so have no way of deciding anything as a group. Instead, our focus is showing up. I'm actually rather ashamed that it took us a couple of weeks to get involved as a group. The NYC collective has been rather inactive lately, but perhaps helping with the OWSL library (not "library" as PLG referred to it) will galvanize our efforts.

We're planning a question-answering work day the weekend of the 22nd & 23rd (time not set yet), so holler at nyc@radicalreference.info if you're interested in participating. We're also up for heading back down to OWS individually or en masse anytime.

Jenna, speaking only for myself, and only a teeny bit meaning to stir the pot with PLG