How Do You Do Citizenship Anymore?

10553578_10152174197990974_2525559668105628804_n.jpgLast winter our New York Public Library trustees, 1%ers all, investment bankers and realtors, trucked at least 2,000,000 books from the 42nd Street Library to a storage facility in New Jersey under cover of darkness. The famous "stacks" below the Rose Reading Room were suddenly emptied of physical books. 

The NYPL says that they are studying the situation, which is to say that the books are out in the Jersey warehouse indefinitely. The trustees are always arguing that books can be replaced by digital information, and maybe they want some time to prove that this can be done. Their redesigns of the libraries, the ones they don't sell off, look like Starbucks...

So we followed the missing books to this faceless suburban building and took with us a thousand of our personal books. We created a circular stonehenge of books, and stood facing the warehouse together, in homage to the great books protest at Gezi Park in Istanbul. But then the director of the storage facility walked up to us and tried to stop our "Library Blues" song... He told Savitri that in fact we were in some kind of military zone. Law enforcement here was federal. Security was heavy. And there it was again. Our double-take. The depth of the Devil's reach. You mean our library books have been sent to a military installation? It isn't just that our publicly owned books are privatized. Our knowledge is militarized. And what we're doing is not expressive politics protected by the 1st Amendment - it's some kind of foreign attack. Oh, regular everyday citizenship. A good song and a point to make. How do you do citizenship, anymore?