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Audio version

2012 Midwinter Meeting HIGHLIGHTS—Dallas Cognotes • Page 15

A Library Occupies Occupy Wall Street

By Brad Martin
LAC Group

As the Occupy Wall Street protest was born and grew this past fall, so did the community's needs for all the necessities of life – a people's kitchen for feeding the masses, a comfort station for keeping them warm and dry, and thanks to the efforts of librarians speaking at the Saturday, January 21 Master Series, a People's Library for serving those needs.

Five New York area librarians – Betsy Fagin, Mandy Henk, Zachary Loeb, Daniel Norton and Jaime Taylor – shared the experiences and unique challenges ofhelping this library grow within the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.

Loeb stressed that the library's collection, which was mostly shelved in cardboard boxes (and covered in plastic during the rain), was built from the library's patrons and by publishers' donations. The two main criteria for developing the collection, according to Loeb, were based on two questions: what books do you need? And what do you think we need in the collection? This resulted in quite a varied collection representing a wide range of viewpoints – from Noam Chomsky to Ann Coulter; from Dr. Seuss to Shakesspeare, and so on.

Norton, who is also studying library science, stressed how "people engaging with us and in the process are helping to redefine the profession of librarianship." The whole thing is about "community, sharing, conversation and insight," said Norton.

Decision-making, according to Taylor, was based on consensus, in the broadest sense of the term. "This required that nearly everyone support a decision for it to be acted upon."

She also spoke of how about the lack of a circulation system, preferring an honor system, and about the classification of books by what she called "democratic shelving." The main goal for this, according to Taylor, was to put books in such categories as it was thought patrons would look for them – adding that subsequent shelving could result in a book being re-classified somewhere else. The OWS library does have a catalog, and is on Library Thing. Also – the job title librarian is a term that is not conferred by way of someone having an MLS degree – they are all librarians.

Despite all the hard work of creating the OWS library, it literally all came crashing down last November 15th when the New York City police came to Zuccottii Park to break up the protesters' encampment. Organizers began hearing warnings about a raid and sending text messages to each other in the wee hours of the morning, buti t was already too late. By that time, it was impossible to get very close to the library's location to save much of the collection from being disposed of.

Henk spoke of libraries being assaulted on many other fronts (budgets, intellectual freedom, etc.) and that she feels they are now at a crossroads. She said that the People's Library represents "an act of resistance, protest, hope and love." Fagin spoke of the support the

People's Library got from around the world, and read from a letter they received from an activist at Occupy Madrid. She also described the how the future of the People's Library involves more reaching out and engaging with other similar libraries and groups. "Libraries are valueless if not used for the betterment of mankind," she said.

More information can be found at

Panelists, from left to right, Jaime Taylor, Daniel Norton, Zachary Loeb, Mandy Henk and Betsy Fagin, discuss their front line experiences with Occupy Wall Street.

ALA Division President

The 2011-2012 LITA President is Colleen Cuddy. The LITA Vice President's picture was published in the Program Book as LITA President.

Indian Literature

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honor the fullness of Native lives."

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood, written by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, illustrated by Ellen Beier and published by Holiday House won the Picture Book award.

Sneve recalls a Christmas from her early 20th-century South Dakota childhood when her family awaited "Theast" boxes of clothing from New England, a common experience on western reservations yet today. Virginia learns lessons of patience, sharing, gratitude and privilege as she helps her parents sort the clothes for others in the reservation community when the boxes arrive at her father's church just in time for Christmas. Beier's warm, wintry and realistic illustrations of the Dakota reservation community and their own version of Christmas make this a beautiful book t o be read year round.

Four titles were selected as Honor Books in the Picture Book category, including:

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light, written by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson and published by Cinco Puntos Press;

Kohala Kuamo'o: Nae'ole's Race to Save a King, written by Kekauleleana'ole Kawai'ae'a, illustrated by Aaron Kawai'ae'a, story by Walter and Luana Kawai'ae'a and published by Kamehameha Publishing;

Mohala Mai 'O Hau = How Hau Became Hau'ula, written by Robert Lono 'Ikuwa, pictures by Matthew Kawika Ortiz and published by Kamehameha Publishing; and I See Me, written by Margaret Manuel and published by Theytus Books.

Free Throw and Triple Threat, both written by Jacqueline Guest and published by James Lorimer & Company Ltd. won the Middle Grades award.

These companion titles feature 13-year-old Matt Eagletail, a Tsuu T'ina basketball player coping with a new (non-Native) stepdad and five new stepsisters – the oldest of whom, 12-year-old Jazz, is also a basketball player. On top of that, he and his mother move with his new stepfamily to a town just off his reserve in Alberta, Canada and Matt has to go to a new school and decide whether to try out for his new middle school basketball team. Although basketball fans will root for Matt, even non-sports fans will enjoy Matt's adjustments with his new family and school, familiar issues of sibling rivalry, blending families, pride in his First Nations heritage and finding new friends via sports Internet chat rooms, who later come to visit from the U.S.

Two titles were selected as Honor Books in the Middle Grades category, including:

Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuit to Play in the NHL, written by Melanie Florence and published by James Lorimer & Company Ltd.; and

Awesiinyensag: Dibaajimowinan Ji-Gikinoo'amaageng, written by Anton Treuer et al. and published by Wiigwaas Press.

Pipestone: My Life in an Indian Boarding School, by Adam Fortunate Eagle and published by the University of Oklahoma Press won the Young Adult award.

Books and news stories about the demeaning experiences of indigenous children in Indian boarding schools and First Nations residential schools have been increasingly common. Adam Fortunate Eagle, an Ojibwe activist and boarding school survivor, offers a different perspective on the boarding school experience. Told in the first person as if he was currently an elementary school student, but with an adult's hindsight, Fortunate Eagle offers a rollickingly funny, realistic, warm and sensitive memoir of his and his brothers' school days at Pipestone Indian Boarding School in Minnesota from 1935-45. This is a wonderful book that pulls no punches but is also well-rounded and entertaining and great for reading aloud.

One title was named as an Honor Book in the Young Adult category: Native Defenders of the Environment, and other titles in the Native Trailblazers series, written by Victor Schilling and published by 7th Generation.

To learn more about the American Indian Youth Literature Awards, please visit