A few weeks ago we wrote about how libraries fit into the Occupy Wall Street movement. In the comments there was a discussion of emergency plans so I wanted to write a bit of an update on what has happened with the Audre Lorde to Howard Zinn (A-Z) Library at Occupy Boston.
On Wednesday, 12/7, the Judge in the Occupy Boston case ruled in favor of the City. The City was asking to lift the restraining order that had been put in place and to deny the injunction which would prohibit the city from evicting the protesters. I won’t get into the legality of everything because I am not a lawyer and that’s not really want I want to focus on here.
My focus is the librarians that have made the A-Z Library possible from the beginning. When word started to trickle over Twitter and email that eviction may be imminent, the librarians of the A-Z Library mobilized. Over the past few weeks there had been some discussion of possible emergency plans so that we had some sort of control over what happened to the books and archives in the case of a raid. An emergency phone/email list had been set up that included people with cars who could come take books and people who had space to store the books in their apartments. Beyond email and phone, a Twitter account had been set up with the sole purpose of sending out a message in the case of a raid (people could also sign-up to get SMS messages from this account).
Emails starting going out to the list-serv shortly after news started coming about the judge’s ruling and possible eviction. The phone/email tree was activated. There was a call asking for people with cars. Before you knew it, people were emailing that they could be to Dewey Square shortly with their cars and could transport books. Within a few hours the library had been lovingly packed up and driven to homes by some incredible volunteer librarians. Within just a few hours!! A spreadsheet was made for who has what so we can keep track of items over the coming weeks. And it was so well timed that one librarian had just finished cataloging the entire collection through LibraryThing!*
There is still lots of discussion to be had over how to transform the library into some possible mobile library that can still be of use to the Occupy Movement. And I am sure that will evolve over time and will be flexible to the information needs that we are faced with. And that’s what’s so amazing about how libraries have fit into this all. They have adapted to the surroundings and to what has been needed. I think that’s a lesson that all sorts of libraries can take in. The Occupy Oakland library has already set up a mobile version of their library and they are literally going where they are needed. Obviously, mobile libraries are not a new concept but it’s really neat to see, again, these Occupy libraries morphing into what serves its users best.
What I have learned from this all: Never underestimate the power of librarians to mobilize and organize.*For an even further look at the life of the A-Z Library, check out this this great Phoenix article.