Libraries and the Assault on Paper
By Nicholson Baker
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375726217, 384pp.)
Publication Date: April 9, 2002
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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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.
Nicholson Baker has published five novels–The Mezzanine, Room Temperature, Vox, The Fermata, and The Everlasting Story of Nory–and two works of nonfiction, U and I and The Size of Thoughts. He lives with his wife and two children in Maine.
“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