Updated: The Gothamist has a timeline that shows exactly how long the books went missing, which certainly added to suspicions that they had been maliciously destroyed.
Whoops! Mayor Bloomberg's office has come to the realization that tearing down and carting off a 5,000 book library particularly looks bad in a situation that already makes him look like a tone-deaf authoritarian. The mayor's office put up a picture of some of the library contents with this caption: "Property from #Zuccoti, incl #OWS library, safely stored @ 57th St Sanit Garage; can be picked up Weds." The only property shown in the picture is books:
That the books will be returned is excellent news, and let's hope the rest of the belongings of the protesters will also be returned.
It's telling that this defensive retort to the understandable panic in response to having all the protesters' things carted away in the raid is to display a picture of the books. As I noted earlier, there's nothing that says authoritarian overreach like the destruction of books. Bloomberg is trying to create the illusion that he's not interested in anything but a clean park, and so it's in his interest to dispel the notion that he sicced the cops on a people-built, ragtag library. For some, this picture of books will, in fact, dispel that notion. I would warn people not to make too much of this, however. Bloomberg can't undo the attempted media blackout, and the fact that all this property was seized from peaceful people in an unnecessary raid is still outrageous.
For now, I'm glad that the books were not destroyed, and hope they are all returned promptly without being damaged. This is reportedly only a fraction of the library that's been accumulated, so we won't know the full story until the protesters get their things back.
As far as I know, we're still having a writer's protest to show support for the basic right to free speech and community education at Zuccoti Park at 6PM, though that may change depending on the ongoing clusterfuck at the courthouse. Details available here and here. Regardless of whether or not the mayor's office gives the books back, the whole raid has shined a light on the admirable efforts of Occupy Wall St. to use this opportunity not just for protest, but for education and expanding one's worldview. That affirming the value of reading has been so central to the protest should warm the hear of all writers and lovers of the written word, and we should show our support.