History of the Occupy Vancouver Library

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The First Forty Days: Life At the Occupy Vancouver Camp

The library sprung from the 
               loins of one mythical beast by the name of Iain. What popped 
out 
   were some course readings 
and a table.  
(And at one point there wasn't 
even a table. 
             Just a sign
saying "Education Station"
because nobody could have expected what Our Community did next!)
And Iain asked people to bring their own books and course readings
and sit with him
               and convince people to read them.
But that was an utter failure.
Instead people started bringing books
                                     and Iain immediately
                                        relented
                         and accepted the mantle
                        Suddenly 
other, less 
                   ethereal 
            beasts 
seeing the library
     ran home, and
                    collected
treasured books
and unwanted bookshelves
and they brought themselves
for a minute 
or an hour
after work or school
and we tried to fill a twelve hour day
and before long
the library was occupied 
24 hours a day 
              or more
The space
grew roots
and familiar burls:
 chairs, 
even a green leather sofa (imagine the labour);
                         and branches
                  like Renee
and the Positivi-Teahouse 
next door
 and then there was a whole onslaught of minutiae and gewgaws, like a croquetion station 
and some knitting needles, 
a wooden horse and 
materials for 
producing 
masterpieces 
    of 
    art 
        and literary persuasions 
        (persuasive they were 
too; to embed political thought into the 
people 
that wandered in 
and pondered over 
them).
It was two weeks before 
we heard that the same 
thing 
happened 
in New York, and a month before we realized 
we were part of a global phenomenon. 
At the onset, it was a place 
  that shut down 
for 
   the evenings, 
until some of the 
                  nighthawks began to 
occupy the wee hours, 
until 3, or 4,
               filling the night air with debate
and conversation
(as Goethe said, “Night 
               is the other half of life, 
   and the better half.”) 
There were intense 
drunken chess duels 
                    at two in the morning, 
         there were impassioned 
poetry recitals as the feet 
                           of the sleeping 
       lumps on the couch 
stirred,  
there were debates 
  over whether or not donated 
       Ayn Rand books should be 
   tossed in the trash; 
they ended up 
          under the new section "Know Thy Enemy" 
along with a book by Bill Gates and 
                 works of the mendacious Milton Friedman.
                      During the day the library 
                           was a place of 
        cramped communion, 
           it was
               a place 
                  where 
                 people 
                    happened.
They came to get educated, or to educate
and the best came to do both
because they got it. 
For initially the name by which the 
                   library went by was 
    'The Education Station', 
but was, a few
     weeks into the camp, renamed 'The 
                  People's Lovely Library' after 
some bum at 4 in the morning, 
with cold fingers and 
                  coffee 
                  trembles 
decided to paint 
a pretty sign.
Sometimes I wonder,
of all of the Librarians who once
called The Library "theirs" 
if just for a few hours and then never again--
I wonder if any of us ever
said
"thank
you."
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