In Praise of Libraries

OWS People's Library, Zuccotti Park, October 9, 2011

Libraries are the repositories of the soul of our societies. They hold the wisdom and follies of ages, portraits and snapshots of who we were and are, predictions of who we will become. They are sacred spaces because they are where we keep our stories. Libraries have shelves and shelves of bright keys to imagination and imagination is how we create our worlds.

I have always wanted the entire city of New York to become a library: empty storefronts full of books to borrow with corners for nannies and parents to read to toddlers, book-borrow stands like newsstands on every street, beautiful old buildings like the St. Agnes library in every community, mobile libraries cruising commercial strips and neighborhoods, a free library in every corporate building and condo lobby, library kiosks in the parks. If Gotham dedicated its resources to transforming the city into one huge library, we would be the most literate, intelligent, imaginative, tolerant, peaceful and positive metropolis on the planet–no end to the possibilities.


My favorite energy spot at the Occupy Wall St. encampment in Zuccotti Park is its library. The existence of the OWS People’s Library speaks volumes (even Shakespeare had no problem with the occasional pun) about the mindset and motivation of the 99% protesting in the park. You can donate books. You can borrow books. You can even keep books if you promise to pass them along to someone else when you have finished them. You can sit and read a book. So one day, shortly after my first visit to the library, I did.

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