Little Red Herrings -- Occupy Wall Street
Little Red Herrings -- Occupy Wall Street
Mark Y. Herring 0
0 Winthrop University
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from page 8
Perhaps here is where the enlightened cable
company might find the path to survival: in
streaming books, “Quixotic: All Cervantes,
All the Time!” Or, “Tonight: Joyce — the
In truth, I find literacy’s prospects a little
dismaying at the present time. Can the Great
Novel be pounded out on a tablet screen’s
keyboard? Back in an electronics class I took
(in the previous century), the teacher made us
use slide rules for the first two months, before
permitting us to employ scientific calculators.
I’m certain it was good for us, but I haven’t
used a slide rule since.
from page 6
told me in Charleston that Jerry had a stroke
that affected the muscles on one side of his
face. buzzy said that Jerry could understand
what he said to him. Mary, Jerry’s wife,
said that they were doing 10 weeks of therapy
twice a week and Jerry is doing well. In fact,
they expect him to be back at 100% of the
same old Jerry! Jerry’s phone number is
continued on page 20
the library is there, and
I’m glad these folks are
reading. I hope some
of the books have to do with economics, and
democratic capitalism, too. Perhaps their
reading will help them understand why running up a
$40,000 college debt on street theatre and
puppetry may not yield the highest career return,
but that’s not exactly Wall Street’s fault.
This leads me to a final observation. Is this
the movement to which the library profession
should suddenly attach itself? I understand
that librarians have something of a chip on
their shoulders about their image and will do
almost anything to be seen as something other
than librarians. But seriously, is this
Marxistladen movement the right one? Given that our
future largely depends on “evil” corporations
like Microsoft, Apple, Wal-Mart, Sears, and
McDonald’s (not to mention many of those
1%) throwing a few dollars our way, should
we be so quick to bite the hand that feeds us,
or feeds our organizations? I’m not advocating
a pass for corporations, but we can’t be like
the guy who shot his parents and then threw
himself on the mercy of the court because he
was an orphan.
It’s hardly fun, I know, but perhaps we
should take a breath and occupy reality for a
bit? At the very least, can we all agree that
libraries are not all that unusual, and their
emergence is as natural a part of life as eating
Little Red Herrings — Occupy Wall Street
by Mark Y. Herring (Dean of Library Services, Dacus Library, Winthrop Univ.) <>
PSince the discovery of a library at the
erhaps someone can help me with this.
“Occupy Wall Street” site in New York,
the library press has been nothing short of gaga.
Like Neanderthals discovering fire, the library
press has been all atwitter about the library,
books, donations to same, and, of course, the
destruction — OMG, no, please say it isn’t so!
— of said library when the police moved in.
Never in my thirty years in this profession have
I seen more ink spilled on so narrow an event
in general, and in the library press in specific.
Granted, librarians are probably slightly more
politically left than they are to the right, but even
that doesn’t quite explain the insatiable interest
in a fringe movement.
Now I do understand the movement, and I get
that these folks are very upset about corporations
“making out like bandits.” What I don’t get
comes down to two things: one, what do they
hope to accomplish; and, two, why is a library
all that unusual or even newsworthy?
The what-do-they-hope-to-accomplish part is
really puzzling to me. I thought one of the points
was the massive and unnecessary spending by
corporations. I got that the first few days. We’re
now going on ninety days, so what’s the other
point? Corporate greed is always an easy target,
but it isn’t new. Is there something else? It can’t
be the banking bailouts, as Congress, more than
anyone else, is responsible for that. It can’t be
the housing mess either, as, again, Congress is
the culprit. Maybe there should be an “Occupy
Congress” movement? Perhaps it is the recent
interest on the cost of a college education. If so,
are we advocating occupying college grounds?
So far this movement has cost American
cities $13 million, and more is being added daily.
Yes, of course, free speech and the right to
protest are very much a part of the American warp
and woof of freedom. But does that include a
“right” to tear up public property in the process?
Furthermore, the group has not exactly patterned
itself after Gandhi’s passive resistance of late,
as fighting is now taking place at more than one
location. And it isn’t just with the police, but
with other participants. In Zuccotti Park, for
example, they had to set up a “safety tent” for
women being groped by fellow (or felon)
occupiers. I won’t mention the outbreaks of lice.
The second part of the question is a bit more
germane to librarians. Is it really unusual for a
library to develop among scores and scores of
people sitting about on public property all day
with nothing to do? Wouldn’t it be more unusual
had one not emerged? Personally, I don’t go
anywhere without a book. Even when stuck in
traffic I pick up whatever I’m reading while
waiting for the unsnarling, and I began this habit long
before I became a librarian. Wouldn’t thousands
of folks with nothing to do but sit about all day
find reading natural? Not everyone there has a
smartphone or an eBook reader either, so
naturally print books should, and did, emerge.
And yet none of this explains why so much
ink has been spilled about this library. I’m glad
Against the Grain / December 2011 - January 2012