Tuesday, November 22, 2011

guerilla library

Today's Boston Globe includes an article on the library that's been set up in the Occupy Boston camp at Dewey Square. Sorry about the link, but The Globe no longer supports the poor, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. You have to pay.

Its called the Audre Lorde to Howard Zinn Library, or the A-Z Library, for short. The Occupy Boston Wiki has a page for this, their tent city library, which has some helpful info, like what to do if there is no librarian on duty, where else you can find information, and how to ask a question.

According to the Globe article (print version) there was a library in New York's Occupy Wall Street encampment, which was discarded when the protestors were evicted by the city. The ALA apparently didn't like what they called the "dissolution of a library", and came out in a statement against the police action, calling it "unacceptable".

The A-Z Library at Occupy Boston is housed in an 11-foot-square military surplus tent, strung with a few reading lamps and a twinkling of Christmas lights. There are over 1000 volumes available to read and borrow, and help is available from volunteer librarians and library science students; folks like Radical Reference and the Simmons Progressive Librarians Guild.

According to the Globe, most Occupy movements have a library (there are some 900 ongoing or intermittent protests worldwide) and they start up organically. yeah! get some! The A-Z Library in Boston was started by John Ford, who owns an alternative bookstore called The Metacomet (pronounced metə 'kämit *) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He brought the military tent, some old shelving and a few hundred volumes. The rest of the books come from donations.

Clearly, people have a visceral and unquenchable need for a library. The Audre Lorde to Howard Zinn Library is providing what the people need; not just books, but a place to go, to talk, to learn, to escape, to play. In their statement against the destruction of the Peoples Library at Occupy Wall Street library, the ALA stated that "Libraries serves as the cornerstone of our democracy and must be safeguarded."

The library is idea-cum-reality. People living in tent cities, trying to make the world a better place, create these places from the ether and raw will, because they need to.

That's guerrilla library.

* The Metacomet is named after a the war chief, or sachem of the Wampanoag. Metacomet was also known as Metacom or King Philip. He was the second son of Massasoit. After some manhandling by the Plymouth Colony folks, war broke out: King Philip's War.

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