Since the 1950s, some of the world's greatest libraries have, as a matter of common practice, dismantled their collections of original bound newspapers and books, replacing them with microfilmed copies. The originals, often irreplaceable, are cut up to be sold as birthday gifts or are pulped. In this book the real motives behind the dismantling of our recorded heritage is examined. The libraries argue that paper is too fragile to be stored in their archives, and point to the so-called brittle paper crisis. The author argues that paper can be stored for years and that libraries are under budgetary pressure to save space.
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The ostensible purpose of a library is to preserve the printed word. But for fifty years our country's libraries-including the Library of Congress-have been doing just the opposite, destroying hundreds of thousands of historic newspapers and replacing them with microfilm copies that are difficult to read, lack all the color and quality of the original paper and illustrations, and deteriorate with age.
With meticulous detective work and Baker's well-known explanatory power, Double Fold reveals a secret history of microfilm lobbyists, former CIA agents, and warehouses where priceless archives are destroyed with a machine called a guillotine. Baker argues passionately for preservation, even cashing in his own retirement account to save one important archive-all twenty tons of it. Written the brilliant narrative style that Nicholson Baker fans have come to expect, Double Fold is a persuasive and often devastating book that may turn out to be "The Jungle of the American library system.
“Got me, as he intended, hopping mad. Bless his obsessive-compulsive heart.”–David Gates, The New York Times Book Review
“There’s no mistaking the passion and intelligence he brings to his task or the fiery zest with which he relays his most damning anecdotes.” –Chicago Tribune
“Provocative . . . impassioned and compelling.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A magnificent crusade and he tells its story with a novelist’s flair. . . . This book is a thumping indictment of America’s great libraries. They have much to answer for” –Chicago Sun-Times
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Book Description Vintage/Ebury (a Division of Random, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0099429039