It doesn’t seem likely that the site of a large protest would be a suitable place for reading quietly. Which is why you might be surprised to find that Zuccotti park, home of the Occupy Wall Street protests, has its very own public library and that many protestors can be found with their noses buried in books, reading and occupying all at the same time.
Since the Library’s beginnings, its makeshift shelves have grown to house about 500 to 1,000 books. All of the books were donated and its neat organization is maintained by a handful of volunteers, one of which is Steven Grant, a former Marine from New Orleans.
According to its wishlist, the library is currently in need of scissors, markers, books, cameras, and laptops. If you would like to donate books and supplies to The People’s Library, you can mail them to
Is this a good place to read or write in public? Believe it or not, yes! Many readers can be found scattered around Zuccotti park. And while many people are protesting on the outskirts of the square, the inside of the camp is relatively quiet and peaceful. Even more so, for every protestor propped up against a tree or sitting on the steps with a book, you’ll find another with a pen and notebook, or even a laptop, diligently writing the day away.
Bonus points: Donated books free for anyone to borrow and the biggest sense of community I’ve seen in a really long time.
Bookstore lovers, has an occupy movement started in or near your city? If so, does it have its own library?
What: Coffee Shop Franchise
Where: Ashburn, VA
I’m not trying to be mean- really, I’m not a mean person- but I’ve been here for all of five minutes and I hate this place. It’s a total wannabe indie cafe and it’s trying way too hard. I should have known this would be a subpar coffee shop when I asked what was in the White Peach Berry Smoothie and the cashier told me she didn’t know because it was pre-made. I mean, sure, it tastes pretty good but god only knows what’s in it. I’m going to guess a lot of fake sugar because no real fruit is this sweet. “Fruit” smoothie my butt. Don’t call it what it’s not, Caribou Coffee.
There’s free wi-fi here and besides myself, there are a bunch of other people working on laptops, but I’m honestly wondering if they are having the same amount of trouble concentrating as I am because the crappy music in here is so loud I can barely hear myself think. The song playing right now sort of sounds like an extremely mediocre version of Jack Johnson that should just never be played at all, let alone at the excruciatingly painful volume they have it blasting.
Since I’m on a total complaining roll right now, I’ll take this opportunity to point out the obnoxiously loud employees conversing about why their is toilet paper near the coffee grinder. One of the baristas just asked another, “Why is their toilet paper over here?”
“I don’t know,” the other replied to her.
Maybe it’s because this place is crap. I think you should take the toilet paper as a sign.
It’s going to sound like I came here just to secretly listen in on all of the Caribou Coffee employees’ conversations, but since we’re on the subject and they are talking so loudly that it would be impossible for me to not hear them let’s recap another excruciatingly embarrassing conversation that just took place:
Employee one: Hufflepuff? What’s Hufflepuff?
Employee two: Ew, don’t talk to me about Hufflepuff. I don’t even like Hufflepuff.
Employee one: I don’t even know what Hufflepuff is.
Employee two: Hufflepuff is like…happy people. I’m a Gryffindor.
Excuse me, but first of all, happy people? Happy people? What is that even supposed to mean? Have you even read Harry Potter? Clearly you have not. The essence of The Hufflepuff House goes much beyond your vapid description. Second of all, according to Pottermore, I’m a Hufflepuff and you have greatly offended me, you ignorant Harry Potter Fool. Hmph!
There’s not much else for me to say about Caribou Coffee. I could certainly point out plenty of other shortcomings but I’d rather not since I can’t wait to finishing writing this and get the hell out of here. Nice knowing you, Caribou Coffee. NOT!
Is this a good place for reading or writing? If you bring earplugs.
Minus Points: Inability to spell.
What: Public Library
Where: Historic Old Town Winchester, Virgina
Swoon! This gorgeous building is what the lucky people of this town get to call their public library. I am legitimately jealous. This is so unfair. The public library that I grew up using was made of bricks and probably built in the 1980’s. (Meaning, it’s not old enough. I like my libraries to be old.) This one has rows of gorgeous columns, the coolest, most magnificent dome structure, and was built in 1913. Aside from everything about it , one of my favorite parts of this building is the story behind how it came into existence.
It’s construction was one of the last dying wishes of Judge John Handley of Scranton Pennsylvania. He designated $250,000 in his will to ensure the creation of this beautiful book house and wrote that it was for “…a public library for the free use of the people of the city of Winchester forever.” It’s forever, guys. FOREVER! (As all libraries should be.)
I know that this blog is titled “Blogging from Bookstores,” and technically libraries are not bookstores, but as you have already noticed, such a small technicality will not stop me from blogging about this magnificent epicenter of books. I’ll be damned if you told me I was going to step foot inside of this wondrous building and not blog about it. Libraries are like the free bookstores of the world anyway. Oh, and this one actually has it’s own bookstore, so take that!
I’m blogging from the East Reading Room. It’s quiet and to my right there’s an old man reading in a chair that’s quaintly placed in front of a fireplace. I mean, the fireplace isn’t lit or anything, but how cozy! It took me a while to sit down and get settled in because, One: This is the most gorgeous library I have ever seen (I had to explore.) and Two: This library knows me. It really does. For example, after I walked through the doors I was immediately led to this wooden spiral stair case.
As I began to walk up the stairs, I was greeted by a pointing finger that directed me to the Young Adult section. (The best section of them all!)
When I finally reached the top of the spiral stairs, I was greeted by this young man.
This library is perfect.
I browsed and walked around the circular halls of each floor, feeling like I was in some sort of magical play land. There were big wooden doors that I’m assuming led to Hogwarts and Narnia and in the Young Adult section there were even more spiral staircases that served as the most precious bookshelves known to man kind.
While I was walking around the circular halls of the second floor, I noticed an adorable, little old woman looking through one of the balcony openings on the first floor. That was my future self. As I circled the second floor, I passed by a girl who looked about 11 or 12 years old. She had been walking through the halls with her jaw on the floor saying, “Oh my gosh it’s beautiful up here.” She smiled at me as she walked by and I said, “Isn’t it pretty?” Looking up at me with wide eyes she said, “Yeahhhh, it’s SO pretty.” That was my past self. So there you have it, my past, present, and future self all in the same place at the same time. Can you believe that it was at a library?!
Is this a good place for writing or reading? OK, we all know the answer to that so I don’t know why I even needed to ask.
Bonus Points: EVERYTHING!
One little thing: What’s with the “automatic” doors in the entrance that you have to pull to open? That’s not automatic.
Readers, what is your favorite part of exploring the library?