Magazine article American Libraries

Sit-Ins Lead to Arrests at Library of Congress

Magazine article American Libraries

Sit-Ins Lead to Arrests at Library of Congress

Article excerpt

Sit-ins lead to arrests at Library of Congress

Two weeks after Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin delivered his eloquent plea for federal funds (see p.233), ALA President Beverly Lynch told the same Congressional subcommittee how the $18.3 million cut in LC funding hurts libraries and people throughout the nation. On March 10, more than 100 individuals launched protests in LC's main reading room.

The Library had announced that due to the budget cuts it would close on weekdays at 5:30 instead of 9:30 p.m. beginning Monday, March 10. During the day, unidentified leaflets appeared in the library, advocating "books not bombs' and urging reading-room regulars to join a sit-in that evening.

When the library closed at 5:30 on a weekday for the first time since 1897, some 100 regular patrons and anti-Reagan activists remained in the reading room. As uniformed LC guards looked on from the gallery, protestors mounted the burnished wooden platform in the center of the room to denounce the early closing. By 9:30, the crowd had dwindled to about 15. The following night the sit-in was repeated. On Wednesdays, the library is open until 9, so it was business as usual.

By Thursday evening, LC had changed its tactics. At 5:31 p.m. Associate Librarian of Congress Donald C. Curran mounted the reading room platform and shouted to some 65 people: "You are now in violation . . . Please, I advise you to leave!' Curran read a statement saying the Library has asked Congress to restore funds that might allow evening hours to be restored at the start of the next fiscal year in October. …

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