The People's Library of Occupy Vancouver

Equity, Access and Openness (@OccVanLibrary)

The People’s Library Stands its Ground Against Eviction

After a difficult working group meeting, The Librarians decided that we will NOT be removing the entire library from the Vancouver Art Gallery Site. Well into the night, the last remaining tent and bookshelves were abuzz with protesters, spectators and tent city residents. Some were checking out books for the long, sleepless night ahead, while others were discussing the legal challenges or ethical foundations of remaining to defend the space.

Their Library was there for them.

Over the past four weeks, we’ve provided a needed social space and political resource. It’s a shame the judge or Crown legal team will never get to see it. They have, however instructed law enforcement to remove it. When faced with the question of what we should do with the books, my first reaction was to save them at all costs. But I have been inspired by the courage of fellow Occupy protesters, and outraged by the threat of State violence against our books.

It would be as to abandon our founding principles to remove all of the books. It would be to deprive the movement of its very soul if we would withdraw our support. We, the Librarians, have made the difficult decision of placing books in harm’s way. Yet, for the same reasons that the protesters:

If the police want to use violence to physically remove just and peaceful protesters from the site, they will have to use violence on our books as well.

Looking to those with a history of dealing with The Crown, I turn to the words of American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!”

Should we did save all the books, what good are they to read if we sit in chains? As much as we, The Librarians of Occupy Vancouver have come to educate our fellow revolutionaries–as much as we love and wish to protect our collection of books–we will not be intimidated by the threat of State violence against our just and non-violent cause. Please pray for us.

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2 responses to “The People’s Library Stands its Ground Against Eviction

  1. Kieran November 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    This is very nice, but in practical terms it amounts to throwing the books away, which makes me sad. Surely a more nimble response in the face of state violence would have been more appropriate? Maybe moving the books with the occupation, both to the courthouse and beyond. Turning the library mobile and keeping it open to all who wanted access it.

    Anyway, do you know what happened to them? Did City staff take them away and donate them to somewhere useful, or did they send them straight off to the dump? Are they sitting in storage somewhere?

    • The People's Librarians November 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      We felt the same way, but when it came time to pack up the remaining books, it was simply untenable to remove our essential services.

      That said, upon being evicted, the much smaller, more mobile People’s Library was easily packed up and rescued.

      Not one book was lost. We’re eagerly awaiting a semi-permanent home some time in mid-December. Until then, stay tuned!

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