oward Zinn is here. Dominick Dunne and om Wole, too.Ernest Hemingway and BarbaraEhrenreich and Dr. Who and Beowul: Allhere, and all ree. Barnes & Noble may beendangered and the Borders across the streetclosed months ago, but Te People’s Library at Liberty Square is open or business andthriving.Tat a lending library would spring upully operational on day one o an occupa-tion makes sense when you consider thatthe exchange o ideas is paramount here,at a new crossroads o the world. Just asoccupiers young and old mingle with Ari-cans, Jews, Algonquins and Latinas, de oc-queville rubs elbows with Nicholas Evansand Noam Chomsky.Mandy Henk, 32, saw
call tooccupy Wall Street and drove in rom Green-castle, Indiana, on her all break to work inthe library. A librarian at DePaul University,she’d been waiting or “an actual movement”or years when she saw a photo o the library and a poster beside it that read: “Tings thelibrary needs: Librarians.”“And here I am,” she said cheerully asshe shelved books into clear plastic bins,dozens o which line the northeastern edgeo Liberty Square. Henk isn’t surprised thata library was erected so quickly. “Anytimeyou have a movement like this, people aregoing to bring books to it. People are goingto have inormation needs. And historically,the printed word has played an extraordi-narily important role.” Young readers can nd a wealth o age-appropriate material too, like A.A. Milne’s“When We Were Very Young,” “Oliverwist” and “Te Hobbit,” as well as moreobeat titles like “ales For Little Rebels.” Another volunteer librarian, Steve Syrek,33, is earning his master’s degree in Englishat Rutgers University. He has commutedto Liberty Square rom his WashingtonHeights apartment every day since Octo-ber 7. A sign he made or the library wassnapped up by the Smithsonian Institution:“Literacy, Legitimacy and Moral Authority:Te People’s Library,” it read.“More people arrived, more booksappeared, and it’s just been growing eversince,” Syrek said. “And then everyone in New York City just
to clean out their basement,”he quipped, which would explain how inven-tory has ballooned to nearly 1,800. Authorslike Naomi Klein, Eve Ensler and Katrinavanden Heuvel have donated signed editions,and vanden Heuvel has pledged hundreds o copies o
, past and present. As a result o the inux, the library hasbecome something o a clearing house orbooks. “People are shipping us stu romall over the country and we just give themout,” Syrek said. “We don’t need them to bereturned.”Volunteers log each book on Libr-aryTing, an online cataloging site, by scan-ning the ISBN number using an iPhoneapp. Tis just in: “Wicked,” “Eat Pray Love”and “Get Rich Cheating: Te Crooked Pathto Easy Street.” A blog and a Facebook pagechronicle visits rom literary luminaries andthe ormation o libraries at Occupy sitesacross the country.On a recent uesday, a ew people saton the granite benches that ace the book-shelves, so absorbed in their reading thatthey didn’t look up, despite the din aroundthem. Henk, or one, appreciates the role o escapism, especially when you consider the weighty issues that drew everyone to Liberty Square.“Stories are incredibly important orhelping people to understand the world,” shesaid. “And so this is a place to come to under-stand the world.”
5:00 AM FRIDAY
— In the day-breaking hours o a long nightspent scrubbing and brushing andgardening and packing, a stalwartgirl named Julia meticulously sweptthe tiniest specks rom the groundinto a dust pan, retracing her stepsthrough Liberty Square again andagain.Occupiers carried boxes to astorage space around the block,and personal stu was rolled care-ully into those ever-present bluetarps, names and phone numbersattached. Preparation o a dierentsort happened, too: some stayed putand reused to pack up anything.wo young women, in a subtleand endearing orm o protest, satcurled up in blue plastic bins wait-ing to be carried away. Tree hun-dred people occupied the square.Te day beore, Mayor MichaelBloomberg had announced that at7 a.m., the NYPD would enorce arequest by Brookeld Oce Prop-erties to clear the park or cleaning.Te occupiers, Bloomberg said, would be allowed to return, butmany worried that this was a tacticdevised to evict the occupation. A rush o activity commenced. A Facebook page, “Emergency Action:Deend Occupy Wall Street,” wasorwarded to tens o thousands.witter lit up. Emails, text messagesand phone calls spread the word.Te direct action working groupgot to it. Organizations everywhereissued statements o support and aunied call or action. And Occupy Wall Street orga-nizers put out the most urgent callor donations yet: cleaning supplies.
A line stretched hal- way through the park ater a mic-checked announcement: coeehad arrived. Following an earlierdownpour, clothes were hung todry on police barricades and twinestrung between honey locust trees. An olive-dressed couple wated sagealong the perimeter and a premoni-tory buoy bell rung now and thenrom somewhere too near to be on water. Five hundred people occu-pied the square.
“I need (“I need”) vol-unteers (“volunteers”) to move thislaundry (“to move this laundry”)over there! (“over there!”) Tank you!” wo people splashed lea-pile-style onto the heap beore helping totake it away. eams o coordinatedvolunteers again push-broomed water across granite that was as cleanas it had ever been. Te People’sLibrary was packed into plastic binsand stacked together under a hugeblue turtle-shell assembly o tarps.Te usual vibrant sprawl o stu wasbeing consolidated, ortied. Armaments over shoulder, twooccupiers patrolled the north side- walk. “Preseeeent - mops! March!”Tree sentries were on the lookout:a Superman, a Captain Americaand a Santa Claus. Te Sauron-eyeo the NYPD mobile observationtower on the northwest corner was,as ever, mostly ignored. A bottle hurled at a congregationo uniormed and plain-clothedcops across Liberty Street ell teneet short; they shufed indoors. Anearly edition o the Daily News waspassed rom person to person. Teheadline: “SHOWDOWN”
— Te crowd tripled inten minutes to well over a thousand. Accredited photographers convenedat the trash can bouquet o donatedplastic brooms and snapped actionshots o occupiers cleaning, now, asperormance. On the south side o the square, hal a dozen televisionvans lined up, doors open, videomonitors abuzz. Liberty Squareneared, then exceeded, capacity.
“Tis special assem-bly... is now... in session!” Crazy cheers and wiggly ngers rom all.“Tis session is being called or inpreparation or the notice that wereceived, which we know is a pre-text, to stop this movement, tosilence your voices.” Te people’smic relayed the message in our con-centric waves. “We have two agendaitems. Te rst is brieng romdirect action.”From the direct action workinggroup: “We will hold no less thantwo-thirds o our park at all times.Direct action will be coordinatingtwo lines o non-violent resistancethat divide the park in thirds.” Whenit was asked who in the crowd was willing to risk arrest, hal put theirarms in the air without hesitation.More applause. “Everyone can andshould have a role in deending ourcommunity.”Te assembly went on until a woman carrying a white sheet o paper scrambled toward the acilita-tors. Te people’s mic stopped. Faces wore conusion. Near the center: onehug, then ve more.“We have just received notice thatBrookeld Properties has withdrawn
OCCUPATION OF TIMES SQUARE:
October 15 international day o action brings hundreds o cities around the world into motion. PHOTO: Stephen O’Bryne
LIBRARIES, LIKE NEWSPAPERS
, ARE PILLARS OF A DEMOCRATIC COMMUNITY
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2011ISSUE 3
Love Letter toLiberty Square
PEOPLE STEP UP
Bloomberg backs down
OCCUPY YOUR MIND
THE PEOPLE’S LIBRARY
Continued on center spread