OWSL: The People’s Library

Freedom of speech, as we all know, is protected by the first amendment. We as citizens of the United States of America have the right to say and share what we want. It is illegal for anyone to infringe upon this right, including the government. However, this is exactly what happened during the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Zuccotti park was filled with protestors; people longing for their voices to be heard. These people were protesting the social and economic inequality, and what better place than in a public space. Though it was a privately owned space, Zuccotti Park was a public area where people could come and go as they pleased. This made it an optimal spot for protest, as made evident by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Those who set up camp at the park had every right to do so because they were exercising their first amendment rights.

The 33,000 square foot park was filled with protestors, but they were not alone. They shared this space with the Occupy Wall Street Library (OWSL). This was no conventional library. In fact, at times, it was merely a stack of books being covered from the rain by tarps. Even still, these books had as much right to be in that space as the people. The reason for this has to do with those who took care of the collection as well as everyone who used the collection. The books that made up the OWSL were representative of the ideologies of those people. By taking away their books, you take away their first amendment right of freedom of speech.

Maybe it was not the most ideal space for the books, but in a perfect world there would have been no need for the occupation in the first place. This makeshift library in the park stood for people’s right to protest just as much as it did to serve as an actual library. In fact, it is very likely that it was the main purpose of the OWSL to represent people’s right to speak out against what they disagree with. This is why people are still saying that the books “checked out” from the OWSL library have no due date. They do not want the books back. Instead, those who were part of the working group (the librarians who kept the OWSL functioning) want these books to keep being passed around because when they are, the library “lives” and so do the ideals it represents.

While both the protestors and the OWSL had the right to occupy space in Zuccotti park, only one was effective. The protestors’ main goal was to bring a change to social and economic inequality. They only managed to bring this issue to light. Not much was actually done to fix the problems that the protestors saw. On the other hand, the library stood to share information; as nearly every library does. However, by simply existing, the OWSL shared much more than just information. It shared the desire to stand up for what is right and at that, the Occupy Wall Street Library was, and still is, effective.


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