guerrilla librianship meets the occupied wall street journal

From the Occupied Wall Street Journal #3:
Howard Zinn is here. Dominick Dunne and Tom Wolfe, too. Ernest Hemingway and Barbara Ehrenreich and Dr. Who and Beowulf: All here, and all free. Barnes & Noble may be endangered and the Borders across the street closed months ago, but The People’s Library at Liberty Square is open for business and thriving.

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. Just as occupiers young and old mingle with Africans, Jews, Algonquins and Latinas, de Tocqueville rubs elbows with Nicholas Evans and Noam Chomsky.

Mandy Henk, 32, saw Adbusters’ call to occupy Wall Street and drove in from Greencastle, Indiana, on her fall break to work in the library. A librarian at DePaul University, she’d been waiting for “an actual movement” for years when she saw a photo of the library and a poster beside it that read: “Things the library needs: Librarians.”

“And here I am,” she said cheerfully as she shelved books into clear plastic bins, dozens of which line the northeastern edge of Liberty Square. Henk isn’t surprised that a library was erected so quickly. “Anytime you have a movement like this, people are going to bring books to it. People are going to have information needs. And historically, the printed word has played an extraordinarily important role.”
From the People's Library blog:
What is guerrilla librarianship?

Guerrilla librarianship involves building and maintaining libraries directly where people and the need for information intersect. It can mean building them on a beach, in a bar, or at an occupation. . . .

Most of all guerrilla librarianship is an act of resistance.

• Guerrilla libraries are usually a common, a place where materials are held by the community at large for the joint benefit of all members. By their very existence they reject the idea that relationships should be constructed and mediated by a market. They also provide a stark alternative to the vision presented by market theorists of a human nature based in self-interest and competition.

• Guerrilla libraries are generally underground, that is, they are created without the approval or support of the state or other authority. Instead, they provide a space for people to arrange their own relationships and provide for their own needs.

• Guerrilla libraries often provide space in their collections for ideas that are not typically well-represented in other kinds of library collections. Erotica, ‘zines, and radical political ideas all find a place on the shelves of guerrilla libraries.

• Guerrilla libraries often reject hierarchy as an organizing principle for the librarians. Rather than arrange themselves into a power structure with some sitting at the apex of a pyramid, guerrilla libraries usually have a horizontal organizational structure. They also tend to rely on consensus to make decisions.
See original for more, with excellent links.

On LIS theory at the People's Library:
So, when an anxious, newly anointed People's Librarian asks me where they might shelve a particular book, I shrug and tell them to put it where they think it might go, where they might expect to find it if they were looking for it. Their opinion on the matter is as valid as mine; after all, you don't need a master's degree to be one of the People's Librarians, and they are readers and users of the library just as much as I am. We've democratized the work, direct-democratized it even, since to become a People's Librarian you just show up and start sorting and cataloguing.

Bonus Occupation reading:

Chris Hedges, Occupiers Have to Convince the Other 99 Percent

Barbara Ehrenreich, Throw Them Out With the Trash: Why Homelessness Is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue (original TomDispatch link not working)

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