Occupy Wall Street ‘People’s Library’ librarians to speak at ALA Midwinter Meeting

CHICAGO – In “A Library occupies Occupy Wall Street,” 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Dallas Convention Center; librarians Betsy Fagin, Mandy Henk and Zachary Loeb will share their experiences in building Occupy Wall Street’s People's Library.

During the early morning hours or Nov. 15, The People’s Library was seized by the New York Police Department during a planned raid to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park. The library held a collection of more than 5,000 items and provided free access to books, magazines, newspapers and other materials. According to ALA members who visited the

site, the library reflected many of ALA’s core intellectual freedom values and best practices—a balanced, cataloged collection, representing diverse points of view, that included children’s books and reference service often provided by professional librarians.

City officials assured library staff that library materials would be safely transported to a sanitation depot, but the majority of the collection is still missing and returned items were damaged, including laptops and other equipment. The likelihood of recovering all library materials is bleak, as witnesses reported that library materials were thrown into dumpsters by police and city sanitation workers.

Betsy Fagin was an ALA Spectrum Scholar in 2004 at the University of Maryland, where she received her MLS degree. She also has degrees in creative writing and literature from CUNY–Brooklyn College and Vassar College. Mandy Henk has been a librarian since 2003 and has experience working reference and doing instruction, but her main focus has been access services. Henk’s research interests include sustainable librarianship and the political economy of academic publications. Zachary Loeb earned an MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2011.His areas of interest include archives, library technology, young adult services and the democratization of the public record.

In a recent statement released by ALA President Molly Raphael on the destruction of The People’s Library, Raphael stated that “The dissolution of a library is unacceptable. Libraries serve as the cornerstone of our democracy and must be safeguarded. An informed public constitutes the very foundation of a democracy, and libraries ensure that everyone has free access to information.

“The very existence of the People’s Library demonstrates that libraries are an organic part of all communities. Libraries serve the needs of community members and preserve the record of community history. In the case of the People’s Library, this included irreplaceable records and material related to the occupation movement and the temporary community that it represented.”

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 60,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.

For more information on the ALA Midwinter Meeting, please visit For advance press registration or to schedule an interview, contact Macey Morales at (312) 280-4393,, or Jennifer Petersen at (312) 280-5043,


Macey Morales / Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations

312-280-4393 / 5043 /

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