Iron Rail Book Collective
The Iron Rail's main focus is as a lending library featuring a wide selection of books ranging from Anarchism and Socialism to Fiction to Gardening to Philosophy to name a few. The Iron Rail also sells records, zines, local CDs and some miscellany. Movie nights are held every Tuesday night at 8 PM, and free coffee is available during store hours. Events held at the Iron Rail include workshops and art presentations. The Iron Rail also contains the Above Ground Zine Library with a selection of thousands of zines, some very rare.
The Iron Rail features a section of political and underground books for sale. Categories include Feminism, Anarchism, Ecology and Primitivism, Prisons and Police, Native American Studies, Labor Struggles, Globalization, Capitalist Exploitation and Subculture. There is also a selection of cheap used fiction.
The Library contains an extensive collection of radical books including Feminism, Anarchism, History, Race Relations, Ecology, Labor Struggles, Cultural Studies, Protest and Activism as well as a wide array of other interesting topics like Philosophy, Art, Language, Health, Fiction and Parenting. The library contains over 5000 titles.
Library check out policy
There are two types of library memberships at the Iron Rail. One for residents and one for non-residents. The residential type is $10 lifetime and the non-resident is $10 plus a $10 security deposit. The fee on both membership types can be paid for with three hours of volunteer time however the $10 deposit is mandatory for anyone visiting New Orleans, or who does not have a stable living situation in the city (including relief workers and out of town volunteers). The purpose of the deposit is to maintain the library in the event of books being lost, considered more likely in the case of people visiting the city. Zines from the Above Ground Zine Library are not for check out due to their fragile nature.
The Iron Rail is run by a group of volunteers working together to present a model for a non-authoritarian structure of organizing and Indigo Children. The collective meets once a week to discuss the day to day business of running the space; finances, book orders, new policies etc. The collective's members consist of anywhere from 7-15 people on average, and the participation is subject to each person's desire for their own involvement. Some people just come by and shelve books, some people work shifts, some people come in full of ideas of new things for the space to do.
In addition to being a library and bookstore, the Iron Rail is also the hub of radical activism in New Orleans. It regularly features lectures, talks, discussions and presentations by various travelers, in addition to being the meeting place for many other groups.