“Occupy” Libraries Pool on Flickr


There’s a pool of photos on Flickr titled “Occupy” libraries:


So wonderful to see photos of other Peoples’ Libraries!




















Los Angeles







New York City


Flickr has a great feature that allows you to see a world map with photo locations. Here’s the “Occupy” Libraries pool map:


There are images of libraries in:





New York

Washington, D.C.






Los Angeles


London, Ontario




These libraries sprung up because there were important informational needs to serve. They are surviving despite challenges to their physical space, because it’s really about the IDEA that information should be free more than the space that the delivery of that information takes place in. Librarians have been creative about getting people connected to materials for a long, long time, all over the world. Mobile libraries have taken the most amazing, wonderful forms:







Kenyan National Library Service provided by camels!

From a “Libraries in Transit” blog post here: http://librarymine.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/libraries-in-transit-locations/








Venezuelan bibliomula!


The Occupy libraries that have lost their spaces are just shifting the way that they serve information needs, because THAT’S WHAT REAL LIBRARIANS DO!


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OccupyEducated: Bringing the Knowledge to You

For those of us who respect the intrinsic value of knowledge, learning, and genuine open discussion, it may be impossible to ever forget the images of Occupy Wall Street’s People’s Library being torn apart and thrown into dumpsters — thousands of books and irreplacable items damaged and destroyed (roughly 800 salvageable volumes were recovered out of a collection of over 5000).

Damaged and Destroyed
Damaged and Destroyed

What was once a bustling center of education and free exchange of ideas, open to all, is now roped off with police “crime scene” tape and carefully patroled to protect the decorative cabbages.  Sure, that seems legit.

Library = Crime?

Library = Crime?

But the people’s movement is irrepressible.  From the ashes of the physical library has been born a digital initiative to connect people across the globe:  OccupyEducated.org.  Here is the gist of the idea in excerpts from their About page:

Having a working knowledge of the issues and their root causes is essential to effectively communicating the need for change and formulating practical solutions[…]

As the 1%’s evictions begin to successfully silence education on the streets, OccupyEducated.org is stepping up to continue the conversation where it can never be stopped — online. Being out in your communities is still essential, but so is having a universal classroom and meeting place that can’t be dispersed[…]

We want OccupyEducated to be a knowledge aggregator where the vital information needed for making informed decisions can be easily found and freely accessed[…]

The ultimate goal of OccupyEducated is to promote unity through the use of education to help people see that we all really want the same thing, at a basic level. We would then like to see that unity evolve into collective action that will bring about real change.

The site is in its infancy but is already chock-full of useful information, including a list of recommended “primer” books to read for a basic overview of the problems that generated the Occupy movement, as well as a “cheat sheet” of videos that summarize this info in an accessible, clickable format.

Many of us are struggling to stay afloat in this broken society and ravaged economy.  We all know things have gone terribly wrong, but we don’t all have the time to seek out the hows and whys of it.  “Is the average taxpayer really worse off now than in decades past?”  “What is the relationship between the financial sector and the government, and is it really so sinister?”  “Don’t large corporations benefit everyone by creating jobs and contributing taxes?”  These are questions we need to be able to answer, but more than that, we need to be able to back them up with facts.  OccupyEducated is a great place to start, and it’s all in one place.

Arm yourself with knowledge.  Join the discussion.  The library is open.

The Library is Open

The Library is Open

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Occupy Pittsburgh 2.0: The People’s Park

Good morning, readers!  It’s another grey Pittsburgh day, but at least it’s above freezing today, right?  Luckily, last Sunday was Winterization Day at the Occupy Pittsburgh camp, where there was a lot of smiling, laughing, digging, raking, hauling, building, nailing, and other industrious teamwork to get the space cleaned up, revitalized, and ready to face the cold months ahead.  The People’s Library already got its 2.0 overhaul the weekend before, so us Occubrarians were able to pitch in with other projects.  Check out the fine new mess tent!

New Mess Tent!
New Mess Tent!

 You may have heard that BNY Mellon has served the Occupation with an “eviction” notice.  We can only assume this gesture was intended as a joke, but just in case our dear neighbors are in earnest, we gave them notice right back:

Notice to BNY Mellon

Occupy Pittsburgh hereby makes it known that The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE: BK, hereafter BNY Mellon), a Delaware Corporation, with headquarters at One Wall Street, New York City, New York, is currently occupying a premises at 500 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We, the people of Pittsburgh, have so far tolerated the presence of this organization on this property, and as for the Occupy Pittsburgh encampment, we have enjoyed a friendly relationship with most of BNY Mellon’s staff, who are almost entirely part of the 99% of society who are not millionaires.

The public should be aware, however, that BNY Mellon is a criminal enterprise masquerading as a respectable institution in the community. As we pointed out on October 19, BNY Mellon is being sued by the attorneys general of three states for ripping off $2 billion from public pension funds by overcharging them for foreign currency trades. It is also being sued for $1 billion by the Retirement System of the City of Detroit for keeping the pension funds’ money in Lehman Brothers even after it became apparent that that bank was in trouble.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of BNY Mellon’s crimes. For instance, we note the bank’s habit of paying its own check processors low wages, below the level needed to raise a family. In this light, we see BNY Mellon as frivolous in its recent demand that people exercising their First Amendment right to free speech and assembly should remove their tents and camping equipment. It is BNY Mellon that is intruding on us, and it is time for them to go.

Please call BNY Mellon CEO Gerald Hassell at (212) 495-1784 and tell him it is time to leave the premises at 500 Grant Street immediately.

We further request cooperation from all public officials — be they judges or Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who can be reached at (412) 255-2626 — in enforcing this notice, and also not responding to pressure from BNY Mellon to interfere with the rights of citizens peacefully exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights.

For more fun facts about BNY Mellon’s legal troubles, check out this enlightening piece in Businessweek.  Turns out BNY is being sued for “gross negligence” in helping to funnel billions of dollars into Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.  (Remember Madoff?  He’s in prison now — two years down, 148 to go.  That’s what happens when you steal from the 1% instead of the 99%.)  So, it turns out we here at Occupy Pittsburgh don’t have the most upstanding of neighbors, but we try to make the best of it!  For one thing, we’ve renamed the space.  What do you think?

The People's Park

The People's Park

In so many other cities, the folks in power have claimed that the Occupations are impeding the public from utilizing the spaces the camps are in.  That’s silly, of course, since the very act of Occupation is that of the public utilizing a public space!  But just to make sure our local leaders get the point, we now proudly refer to the space as The People’s Park — open to all people!  And until the lives and livelihoods of the 99% are free of control by criminal organizations like BNY Mellon…
We're Not Going Anywhere!!

We're Not Going Anywhere!!


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Rainy Day Reading

Pretty dreary day here in Pittsburgh.  Need some literary escapism?  With over two hundred volumes and growing, the People’s Library has a book for you.


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath


How about some Steinbeck to stir the blood?  Over seventy years since it first rattled the national consciousness, The Grapes of Wrath remains startlingly relevant to the struggles we face today.

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

The Art of Looking Sideways

100 Sounds to See by Marsha Engle

100 Sounds to See


Looking for something a little more soothing?  Engage your senses with Alan Fletcher’s The Art of Looking Sideways or Marsha Engle’s 100 Sounds to See, both visual explorations of how we perceive the world.

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of…


Indulge in a little sports fandom and hometown pride:  we have David Maraniss’s biography Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero.






The Point of Pittsburgh: Production and…


Can’t get enough of all things Pittsburgh?  We hear ya.  Celebrate the Steel City’s long tradition of labor resistance with The Point of Pittsburgh: Production and Struggle at the Forks of the Ohio.  Author Charles McCollester is the director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Labor Relations and a professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at IUP, and his book has been called “a people’s history of Pittsburgh in the spirit of Howard Zinn.”  Check it out!



What treasures have you discovered in the People’s Library?  Think we’re missing something?  Tell us about it!

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OccupyWriters Reflect on the Movement

Got a favorite writer?  See if they’ve created an original work at OccupyWriters.  Thousands of authors have signed on to declare their public support for the Occupy Movement, and nearly a hundred and counting have contributed pieces relating to the movement.  Peruse and tell us which one you liked best!  (Read more about OccupyWriters at Sampsonia Way.)


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The Library is Coming Together!

Such an exciting day for me today at the library!

James and Kristen set up the space extremely awesomely yesterday. I just prettified the space some and did some more scanning of materials for our LibraryThing catalog, and also so that we have a record of what was in the library in case it experiences similar challenges that other Occupy libraries have experienced. I choose to call them challenges consciously since they did NOT stop the work of the amazing people working in those people’s libraries.

For example:


Today I found a number of comics and zines in donations, as well as some health books and some reference books. I made and labeled shelf  sections for them.

I also put a blank book in the space and labeled it People’s Library Wishlist. Let us know what materials you’d like us to try to track down. We want to be useful to you!

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Welcome to the People’s Library 2.0!

Good morning, readers!  Welcome to your new and improved People’s Library of Pittsburgh!

Since its inception in October, the Occupy Pittsburgh Library has looked something like this:

Library 1.0

Library 1.0

Utilitarian at best, no? Jumbled, disorganized, and cramped; not very user-friendly or welcoming at all. That was the library on Saturday.

This is the library as of Sunday:

Library 2.0

Library 2.0

Check that baby out!  Spacious, inviting, and perhaps best of all — dry!

Thanks to the intrepid efforts of the camp crew, the library working group was able to get this thing set up right next to its former location.  We want to give a special shout-out to John from the Comfort Tent and everyone else who helped construct the new space, as well as Todd who helped break down the shelf to a more manageable size, Aaron who helped us get a start on organizing the books, and Bram who wisely suggested we shelve the children’s collection at kid-level.  A sincere and hearty thanks to all, including everyone who cheered us on!

Here’s a closer look at our expansive new digs:

Two rooms!

Two rooms!

The little white shelf on the left is the fiction section, where you can find romance, thriller, sci-fi, etc.  Have a look, we won’t judge your guilty pleasures!  On the main rack you’ll find literary classics, politics, philosophy, poetry, and lots of other good stuff.  To the right is the newspaper cart, with a selection of local and alternative publications.  Everything still packed away in boxes is fair game too, so feel free to look through it all and borrow anything you’d like!

The front space (dubbed the Howard Zinn Reading Room) is a great place to hang out and enjoy a good book, so plunk down a chair or a milk carton and get to it!  We’ll also be storing unprocessed donations there, so if you’d like to gift us with an item from our wishlist you can drop it off right inside.  In the meantime, keep an eye on our expanding catalog to find out about new additions to the collection.  Occubrarian Superstar Jude is cataloguing away on our LibraryThing!

If you can’t tell, we’re pretty excited about our new space.  We hope you are too!  Come down to camp and check it out, we’re open 24/7!  (Bring a flashlight or lantern after dark, we’re still working on the lighting situation.)  If you have any suggestions for the future of the library, comment here or drop us a line at occupypghlibrary@gmail.com.

Happy Monday from the new People’s Library of Pittsburgh!

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OWS Library on the 1% in Publishing

Our sister librarian Mandy over at Occupy Wall Street has drawn back the curtain on how the 1% have gained control even over our educational and academic resources:

Like the banks, the publishing industry… has seen consolidation into the hands of a relatively few players.  More important than that even, the publishing industry has transformed into one dominated by multinational conglomerates.

The 99% are getting cut off from access to the scholarly output of the global community — content that should belong to everyone.  Read the whole article to find out who owns our scholarly heritage, and why providing a “digital library” is a struggle even for the largest university and big-city public libraries, let alone the People’s Libraries.  (Hint:  a single database subscription can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.)  Occupy the publishing industry!

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You Got Questions? We Got Answers.

If you’ve visited the library at camp, you’ve probably noticed a great abundance of books and a distinct absence of librarians.  Unfortunately, many of us can’t be there nearly as often as we’d like.  We’re going to try to start the occasional shift in the camp library, but in the meantime, never fear!  There are Occubrarians out there, ready to answer your questions!

Radical Reference is a great resource for questions about the issues the Occupy movement is addressing.

“Radical Reference is a collective of volunteer library workers who believe in social justice and equality. We support activist communities, progressive organizations, and independent journalists by providing professional research support, education and access to information. We work in a collaborative virtual setting and are dedicated to information activism to foster a more egalitarian society.”

Maybe you remember these guys from the G20 protests — the Pittsburgh collective put together a great information packet for activists, which folks may still find useful.

For general reference questions — not specifically Occupy-related — there is the Internet Public Library.  Not only do they have a vast collection of vetted online resources, they have an “Ask an ipl2 Librarian” feature staffed by hundreds of volunteer professionals.  Responses generally take a few days but tend to be quite thorough.

Living at camp and/or don’t have Internet access?  The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Downtown & Business branch is just a couple blocks away on Smithfield and open Monday through Friday.  With a library card, you can get free Internet access, as well as access to a number of research databases.  And you can have any item in the county-wide library system delivered to the branch of your choice.  Signing up for a card is free, too!

Got a question or comment about the People’s Library of Pittsburgh itself?  Want to volunteer as an Occubrarian?  Shoot us an email at occupypghlibrary@gmail.com.

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Introducing the People’s Library of Pittsburgh

It’s a soggy day at Occupy Pittsburgh.  A typical November afternoon in this city — a little chilly, a little rainy, altogether pretty grey.  But as I dash up the path into camp to do some cataloguing during my lunch break, I see a stalwart collection of folks milling around in the drizzle.  There’s always something going on here, and visiting always feels a little like coming home.

I survey the library area to make sure the assortment of tarps is adequately protecting the collection of books, magazines, newspapers, fliers, pamphlets, videos, and games underneath.  A few damp items here and there but people are pretty careful about replacing the plastic after browsing, often adding more coverings as the collection grows.  Poking around underneath, I discover — hurray! — a box full of newly donated books, complete with a love note from Eljay’s Used Books in the Southside.

love note from Eljay

I count a few dozen paperbacks ranging from history and politics to fiction.  Soon they’ll be added to the Occupy Pittsburgh Library catalog, hosted by LibraryThing, who graciously gifted us with a complimentary lifetime membership (thanks guys!).  Just a few weeks ago we also had the pleasure of meeting Bill from Copacetic Comics, who left us with two big blue bags full of literary treasures.  It is always encouraging to receive such moral and material support from local and independent businesses.  Not only do we get the warm-and-fuzzies but it reinforces the understanding that this movement extends far beyond the boundaries of the camp.

You know the old misquote, “If you build it, they will come”?  I often think about that as I watch our collection steadily expand.   A month or so ago we rescued an abandoned magazine rack and installed it at camp, conveniently located across from the kitchen.  Since then it’s been inundated with donated materials of every kind — dense academic works, creative nonfiction, literary classics, trashy pop fiction, children’s books, and an array of magazines, newspapers, and indie publications.  It is a challenge to keep track of all the new arrivals and add them to the catalog, but we love seeing what comes in!

One of my favorite contributions is a binder called “Check Your Privilege,” a collection of handouts created by the Marginalized Communities and Allies working group intended to educate people about the social privilege they may take for granted, be it color, gender, class, ability, etc.  It’s emblematic of the larger community the library is intended to serve:  a diverse group of people from all walks of life, united by a common purpose but nonetheless struggling to discard ingrained prejudices and interact effectively.  The library serves as a neutral space to foster that growth and understanding, a place to meet new people and chit-chat and absorb new ideas.

We’re all about new ideas here.  If you haven’t visited the Occupy Pittsburgh camp yet and you’re curious what it’s all about, come on down.  Grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen, grab a book from the library.  We’d love to talk to you and hear what you have to say, and we bet we can find some common ground.  And if you think our library collection is missing something, let us know — or heck, donate a copy!

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