Occupy Wall Street Library and Archives

According to a November 16 blog entry in Occupy Wall Street Library, organizers have not been able to locate library materials through the mayor’s office since the materials’ seizure.  Claims have been made that, “Many books [have been] destroyed. . . most of [the] library is missing…damaged or destroyed”.

Incidentally organizers had begun collecting archival material as part of the library collection.  In a separate effort altogether, Ben Alexander, Professor and Director of the Archival Studies Program, and Head of Special Collections & Archives, Queens College, CUNY, aims to form an archival group to support the nationally organized effort to document and capture the evolving Occupy movement.

Here is Alexander’s proposal:

“…I do not pose this suggestion as a political comment or strategy.  My interest is exclusively archival.  Simply, I suggest that this movement is a defining extension of an on-going process of activism, and advocacy for Civil Rights that is at the center of the American experience.  It is a defining movement of our time.  Further, I believe the Occupy movement (the strategy of arguing for the interests of 99%) is shaping evolving discussions of inclusion and plurality as we enter the 21st century.  As I result, I feel it important that professionals assist in its documentation and memory.

I propose “Occupy Archives” as working title for this group.  Most succinctly, I propose that this group establish a network of contacts and archives who agree to lend professional assistance and advice to the Occupy movement.  I have contact with many members of the Occupy Wall Street movement and state their universal commitment to preserving and documenting these efforts.  (Many of you may be aware of the 5,000+ volume Library at Occupy Wall Street).

It would seem a logical extension then for interested institutions to offer direct involvement in both capturing the movement as well as preserving its evidences.  Or, to simply provide for the movement’s documentation.  A further extension would seem a collaborative digital presence.  At Queens College we have begun work on all of the above to very interesting and appreciated (by Occupiers) result…

At present, and to get started, I would suggest my compiling a list of interested professionals / institutions based on response to this message with an eye towards outreach and engagement with the “Occupy” community.”

To get involved in Alexander’s proposal, contact him via email.

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  1. #1 by Hillel on November 18, 2011 - 7:35 pm

    I think it’s worth pointing out that there are already a number of efforts underway to collect, describe and preserve this material. The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive at NYU is archiving a number of the movement’s websites, and has been collecting printed ephemera. The Internet Archive has a collection of Occupy Wall Street materials, and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has put up an Omeka-powered website to which people can contribute. There’s also an Archives working group in New York City (and perhaps other locations as well) which has been pretty active in preserving the movement’s history. I believe they have been storing much of the collection offsite, and while some things were lost when during the eviction, most of the collection is still intact.

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