Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper.
New York: Random House, 2001. xii + 370 pp. Illustrations, notes,
references, index. $25.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-375-50444-3 .
Mark Lambert , Special Collections and Government Documents Librarian,
Fred Parks Law Library, South Texas College of Law, Houston, Texas.
It would be easy to dismiss Nicholson Baker's new book
Double Fold as a polemic, the conspiratorial rantings of a cranky
novelist who knows nothing about his subject. In fact, some in the library
community have raised their heads from the sand long enough to blurt out
things like "he just doesn't understand." Baker's heavy use of
exaggeration, hyperbole, and half-truths about the "barbarians inside the
gate" wound his argument. His shrill rhetoric and mean-spirited
caricatures of some of the library profession's most respected members
over the last fifty years are also unneeded and offensive. Included as one
of the targets of Baker's harangue is the respected historian Daniel J.
Boorstin as the prone-to-exaggerating Librarian of Congress in the 1970s
and 1980s (p. 126).
However, to tell his side of the story Baker has mastered
an enormous amount of information regarding preservation, conservation,
and papermaking, and there is more than a kernel of truth in this book.
Baker presents a laundry list of hare-brained schemes based on fuzzy
science that the Library of Congress and other major research libraries in
the United States have foisted on the collections in their possession over
the last fifty years, without more than a voice or two objecting to the
schemes. Unfortunately, his book's distortions, half-truths, and
mischaracterizations are so offensive to many cultural resource
professionals and scholars, that his partially meritorious message get
lost in the controversy. With all of this in mind, this book is doubly
troubling, not only because Baker gets so much wrong, but also because he
gets some of it right.
In fairness, Baker is upfront about his zealousness, as he
states in his preface: "This isn't an impartial piece of reporting" (p.
x). For the uninitiated, Nicholson Baker is a novelist, whose books, such
as Vox (1992) and Fermata (1994), are known for their
microscopic focus and quirky delivery of racy subjects. Vox,
with its theme of phone sex, became notorious as Monica Lewinsky's gift to
President Clinton. Baker has also written two non-fiction works,
collections of his articles from such publications as the New Yorker
Librarians are already familiar with Baker as the man who
turned his obsession with detail to the subject of card catalogs in
libraries in 1994 and again in 1996 at the grand opening of the new San
Francisco Public Library. Baker's 1994 New Yorker article decried
the loss of paper card catalogs and the move to electronic catalogs;
because, Baker stated, some cards over the years had been hand-annotated,
important information in those notes was now lost. In this instance,
Baker was among the minority of people who felt that increased access to
materials through the use of computers was not worth the loss of paper
catalogs. In 1996, Baker gave a speech critical of the San Francisco
Public Library after staff members secretly informed him that the library
had discarded 200,000 volumes as part of their move into a new building.
Baker was not convinced by the library administration's explanation that
this "weeding" was part of a systematic process performed by
professionals. Baker termed it a destruction of the printed word hastily
begun when library administrators realized that their goal of a mostly
electronic library had caused them to allocate less shelf-space in the new
library than they presently needed, thus requiring the thinning of the
In Double Fold, Baker tells us that over the last
fifty years, the Library of Congress and other major American research
libraries have expended millions of dollars, and have destroyed enormous
amounts of valuable books and newspapers, in error, by microfilming and
then destroying the original items. The main causes were two-fold: first,
librarians were seduced by the "high-tech" appeal of microfilm, and its
promises of space savings; and later in the erroneous belief, or deceptive
ploy, that books and newspapers defined as "brittle," were in imminent
danger of self-destructing. Thousands of books and newspapers were
microfilmed and then discarded because they were called brittle. Baker
even pillories the brittle book test itself, known as the double fold
test, as a piece of pseudoscience cooked up by librarians to excite a call
to action in the name of preservation (p. 147). The double-fold test, as
Baker describes in Chapter 17 (pp. 152-157), was first developed by
William J. Barrow, a former clothes-factory foreman (p. 112), who ended up
working as a conservator at the Virginia State Library in the 1930s (p.
The main theme of Baker's book is that all the money the
Library of Congress and other major research libraries in the United
States have spent in the last fifty years to microfilm (and then throw
away) original items, could have been better spent on building warehouses
to house the discarded originals (pp. 136-140). Since the 1980s, several
major research libraries in the United States, including Harvard and the
University of Texas, have in fact begun creating these book "warehouses."
Little-used books and other materials worthy of retention are sent to
"remote" or "off-site" storage, where the texts are stored densely,
sometimes in boxes or by size, in shelving potentially many stories high.
These materials can be recalled for researchers in as little as a day's
notice, by way of sophisticated databases that have stored the texts'
bibliographic information and location quickly by the use of barcoding.
I. Butchers and Bakers
Not even these huge warehouses, however, could satisfy
Baker, and this is part of the problem with Baker's book. To Baker, every
edition of every issue of every newspaper ever produced is worthy of
permanent retention (pp. 47-50). Only in a perfect world would this be
possible. In reality, newspapers are just one item out of many in the
information universe that librarians must manage. In this imperfect world,
and its glut of information, some resources receive more attention than
others. For major newspapers, one edition is traditionally microfilmed,
whether it be the "morning edition," the "late edition," etc. As Baker has
identified, sometimes breaking news has not been preserved for posterity
because the "wrong" edition was the one preserved on microfilm.
Baker begins his manifesto in chapter one by denoucing the
British Library, which in 1999 sold off most of its collection of American
newspapers due to growing space concerns (p. 10). Baker was so troubled by
the thought of the sale that he begged for the newspapers to be given to
him (p. 264). In his zeal, he apparently believed that the money that was
to be raised from the sale was of no need to the British Library. He also
thought nothing of attempting to stop the auction at the last minute even
though it had been announced months in advance, and had been of great
interest to many during the pre-auction viewing. When this approach didn't
work, Baker then formed a non-profit corporation, the American Newspaper
Repository, and attempted to purchase what he could. He did this so that
the newspapers would not be destroyed, or fall into dealer's hands, who
would then sell them off one by one at great profit as mementos of
birthdays or as framed product advertisements of yesteryear (p. 267). In
the end, Baker's non-profit organization purchased approximately 6,400
bound volumes of American newspapers, partially (we are told) with his own
retirement savings. The newspapers now sit in a warehouse in New
Hampshire, where supposedly Baker provides library-type access to his
stash for researchers (p. 268). What Baker has not realized, however, at
great expense to the reputation of a worthy library, is that it was not
and is not the primary duty of the British Library to preserve American
history. That is the duty of American cultural resource collectors. The
British library is not the villain that Baker attempts to make of it (pp.
A large problem with Baker's view of the printed word,
however, is his image of all books and newspapers as artifacts. To Baker,
every book and every newspaper ever produced deserve to be preserved in
its original format, regardless of its merit (p. 224). In fact, Baker^Ňs
reverence for newspapers is partially misplaced. Newspapers are ephemeral,
produced for the moment, and can contain fact errors or distortions of the
truth. Only a minority of people requires viewing newspapers in their
original format to gain something from the encounter. For most people, the
information is the only goal. Microfilm, when properly done, can preserve
in a small amount of space a medium that is a space gobbler in the
original. Microfilm can also greatly increase the access to an important
source. It is no accident that scholarship has increased in the United
States, as has the use of microfilm. Baker barely acknowledges this
important fact (p. 256). In fact, Baker's view of libraries is more akin
to museums of bound materials, untouched probably except by a few worthy
individuals. In this scenario, Baker might fall into the category of the
"unworthy," as whatever justification a fiction writer would have to use
old books or newspapers would surely rank low on a repository's scale.
Baker also envisions everyone else treating bound
newspapers with the reverence he reserves for them. Experience dictates
this is not the case. They are leaned on, scribbled atop, brutalized and
smashed under photocopier lids, and the pages torn while turned. They are
usually treated just like any other information resource. Ideally, each
library would house the newspapers it holds in two formats--one, the bound
edition, in a special collections department, where it would sit protected
until needed by the researcher of printing history or journalism, and the
other, the microfilmed copy, available to the majority. But in the library
world of limited resources, someone might complain about this duplication
of precious resources.
Baker is partly right in one regard. The preservation of
newspapers has been slighted when compared to other information resources
over the last fifty years. Rare or one-of-a-kind materials (such as rare
books, archives, or manuscripts) usually receive the lion's share of
attention by preservation administrators and conservators. However,
preservation and retention decisions are never made willy-nilly (as Baker
assumes), but as part of a decisional process involving the appraisal of
all available information resources. The entire universe of information
resources are weighed as to which deserve preservation in their original
format, which resources can be preserved in alternate formats, and which
will eventually be destroyed. These decisions are made daily by
information professionals, in light of budgetary and other concerns, where
there are infinite needs and finite resources. These are factors that
Baker doesn't want to acknowledge or fails to understand, all the while
hinting that someone else, perhaps himself, could better make these
Baker also lumps newspapers and books together. They are
not the same. Books, especially those found in research libraries, are not
produced overnight and only intended for the moment, as are newspapers.
Scholarly books are assembled over months or years, and professionals and
experts in their field critically review most before and after they are
produced. Any book on the shelf in a research library probably went
through rigorous scrutiny to get there.
The Library of Congress also receives a lot of criticism in
Baker's book, some of it deserved, most not. The Library of Congress was
the leader in many of the projects that he discusses. It is important to
note how in many different forms, Baker repeatedly refers to the Library
of Congress as our national library. American librarians only wish it
were the case. Depending on the Presidential Administration and Congress,
our leaders in Washington allocate enough money for the Library of
Congress to be our National Library, or grudgingly allocate it to be the
Library for Congress, and Congress only. A look at the Strategic
Priorities of the Library of Congress hints at this problem, as the first
priority listed is "to make knowledge and creativity available to the
United States Congress." Listed second in priority is "to acquire,
preserve, secure and sustain for the present and future use of the
Congress and the nation." Lack of money was a motivator in many of the
Library of Congress's schemes.
The biggest problem with Baker's book, however, is his long
discussion of research libraries' concerns over space, or lack of it (pp.
104-105). Never anywhere in the book is space equated with money. Most of
the time they were probably one and the same. Decisions whether to film a
book or repair it, or to film and to retain the film and the book, were
probably never made by libraries in isolation, but always had as the
underlying goal the efficient use of, or savings of institutional money.
II. Baker's Doozies
Baker is right in condemning librarians in the past for not
introducing and leading a national discussion on the important issue of
preserving library materials as cultural heritage objects. Librarians also
could have attempted to shift the money flow to such unsexy projects as
conservation and increased storage space. Librarians are also at fault for
microfilming and then destroying newspapers without first checking to see
if the film accurately reflected the contents of the original newspaper.
Baker gives many accounts of microfilm holdings with incomplete runs of
newspapers (the originals having been discarded) (pp. 51-52). Librarians
were too easily lured by the post-World War II "spy-tech" technology of
microfilming, and its promises of space savings. Later, there were genuine
space concerns in research libraries in the 1970s, along with flat
budgets, and just as there was money to continue to purchase materials,
there was little or no money for capital improvement projects to build new
buildings. Libraries were looking for ways to stretch their dollars.
Many fell prey to potential quick fixes such as clearing shelf space by
microfilming and discarding.
Baker rightly denounces the microfilming of books and then
the destruction of the book, as well as the brittle-book or "double-fold"
test itself (pp. 152-157). Books were not "turning to dust" on library
shelves (pp. 194-195). Book paper will yellow for a variety of reasons,
and become brittle as it ages due to residual acid from the modern
papermaking process. That does not make the volume useless (p. 12). A
brittle book does require more careful use than a new book, since
previously dog-eared corners of pages will detach almost by touch, and
pages can tear out very easily. Most brittle books can easily last for a
hundred years after they are discovered to be brittle (pp. 198-202). Books
such as these are good candidates for rare book collections, or a halfway
measure becoming increasingly more popular known as "medium-rare" or
"semi-rare" collections, where the books are used only on-site. The
"turning to dust" allusion, its crisis tone and proposed solution of
microfilming, however, showed libraries in action rather than inaction,
and was a great marketing ploy that ambitious library leaders used in the
1980s to gain greater funding for their budgets over competing interests
(pp. 195-197). Baker reveals the double-fold test for the sham it is, and
with crystal-clear logic proposes his own simple, more valid alternative
to it (pp. 198-202). After reading Baker's easy repudiation, it seems
amazing that any national library leader could still buy into the
pseudoscience of the double-fold test.
Baker's book is at its best when painstakingly and
sarcastically reporting the many different hare-brained schemes undertaken
by librarians in the past in the name of preservation. A librarian's first
credo, like a doctor's, should be "do no harm." As Baker reveals, this was
sometimes not followed in the past.
Baker includes a discussion of document lamination, also
developed by William J. Barrow and begun in the 1940s, during which
manuscripts were sandwiched between two layers of plastic, which then were
heated under a press, causing the plastic to bond with the paper fibers
(pp. 148-150). Early plastics turned brown, or distorted the paper within.
This process is almost impossible to reverse except by very costly
conservation treatment, and does more harm than good, especially in the
way it renders the feel of an early American document into something from
the space age. This preservation technique finally went out of favor by
He also mentions diethyl zinc, or DEZ, a gas first used in
the early 1980s for treating large amounts of books at one time to reduce
their acidity. Unfortunately, treating books to limit their acidity cannot
reverse the embrittlement of paper; so newer books that were not yet
brittle were the unlucky subjects in this scheme. The highly explosive
mixture of DEZ was fed into large high-pressure containers holding books,
where it then permeated the books, and was later evacuated. This process,
because of its danger, was required to be performed under scientific
oversight. The Library of Congress never pointed out this fact in its
optimistic press releases of the time, since it hoped to license the
process and make money from it. After repeated testing, it was discovered
that DEZ stained the books and produced other damage to bindings and
paper. This idea was eventually dropped as unworkable in the early 1990s
after tremendous expense to the Library of Congress (pp. 111-135).
He also discusses the library profession's reliance on
accelerated aging tests for determining the lifespan of paper (p. 8). In
an accelerated aging test, a sample of paper is baked in an oven at a
specific temperature for a specific amount of time, and the chemist's
Arrhenius equation is used to estimate the paper's lifespan in normal
temperatures. Many scientists view this test with skepticism (p. 8).
The history of microfilming, long used by libraries, also
reveals its inferiority to the simple bound book, or codex, for longevity.
A technology developed during wartime (pp. 27-28), microfilming for
library use began before World War II with cellulose nitrate as the film
stock. Cellulose nitrate film was later discovered to become highly
flammable as it aged and decayed, and had the potential to combust
spontaneously. After enough blazing infernos, film stock for microfilming
was switched to cellulose acetate, dubbed "safety film" because it
wouldn't spontaneously combust. It was later discovered that cellulose
acetate film itself had the nasty habit of shrinking as it aged, rendering
the image in the emulsion layer of the film unreadable (p. 41). Both of
these film stocks probably still exist today in research library
collections, thus making it possible that items long considered obtained
or preserved are not stored properly or are now unusable. Since the 1980s,
most microfilm stock has consisted of polyester, which is claimed will
last for hundreds of years under ideal conditions. This knowledge comes
from another version of the accelerated aging test, considered unreliable
by many scientists. "Preservation Microfilming," around since the 1980s,
uses the best resources and techniques available in every phase of a
filming project, and in its early years also included filming and then
discarding the original item. Baker barely mentions that in recent years
most libraries have begun to film items and also retain to the original.
In one of Baker's last chapters, he criticizes the new
trend towards digitization of library materials (pp. 240-253). In
describing the origins of digitization as an infant technology in the
early 1990s, he relates how unsophisticated library leaders adopted
digitization, and dropped microfilming, as the panacea for their
collection storage and retrieval woes. More books and newspapers were then
destroyed in the mad rush to go digital. Many of those items are no longer
retrievable since the technology has changed so much since that time. As
one of his final pleas, Baker voices his fear that the librarians' zeal
for digitization will finish off the great book and newspaper collections
still in our midst (pp. 246-248). He either does not know nor does not
report that, since their early experiences with the technology, no
preservation librarian or archivist now considers digitization a
preservation format; indeed, they are now educating the rest of the
library community on this important point. However, digitization is
proving excellent for increasing access to materials through university
networks or over the Internet.
III. Baker and Dough
Money has and will always be the crux of the matter in
preserving cultural heritage resource collections. Two recently released
reports, current budget shifts at the Smithsonian Institution, and the
present fight over funding of the National Historical Publication and
Records Commission, reveal it to be an ever-present, ongoing problem, even
in a booming economy.
The NHPRC, part of the National Archives, is currently
threatened with a budget reduction.  If our elected representatives in
the federal government, historians, and cultural resource collectors
cannot protect funding for preserving and making more accessible some of
the crown jewels of American history (such as the publication of
definitive editions of the papers of our Founding Fathers), it does not
bode well for the lesser collections in our midst. The Smithsonian
Institution has also recently announced budget cuts that would include
closing their art and artifact conservation center, at a time when more
solid scientific research of the type that Baker demands is needed.
Also, the report released by the Advisory Council on Historic
Preservation, issued on April 23, 2001, highlights the poor state of
historic and cultural resources managed by the Federal Government. These
include historic properties, major public buildings, engineering works,
and military installations of great value as public assets. The report
states that great problems exist, including funding and staffing that are
inadequate, a need for better accountability, and the need to remind
public policy makers of the value of the 665 million acres of land and
430,000 buildings that the Federal Government owns, manages, or
administers for the American people.
Most important, The Evidence in Hand: the Report of the
Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections, the draft
report just released by the Council on Library and Information Resources,
one of the demon organizations in Double Fold, is an attempt by
librarians to begin to address most of the issues that Baker has brought
up in this book and his past writings concerning libraries. The Task Force
was created in 1999, before the publication of Double Fold or his
earlier article on the same subject. The report highlights that there
has never been enough preservation money to go around, and asks for help
by scholars on how to prioritize the materials in libraries to best
utilize preservation dollars. This draft report reveals Baker's influence,
and comes across as somewhat defensive. Worse yet, the report repeats some
of the alarmist and highly exaggerated stories of the past, of paper of
the second half of the nineteenth century "highly embrittled and in danger
of imminent disintegration," and books "that fall apart when used" and
"eventually crumble when handled."
The CLIR report is valuable, however, in highlighting the
many different formats that need preserving, including some that have
largely been neglected in the past, such as audio- and videotape and film.
The report can also be praised for noting the negative impact digitizing
has had on preservation budgets in libraries. Library budgets do not
usually increase for digitization projects, but drain money from other
uses, such as preservation, conservation and storage. This is penny-wise
and pound-foolish. Digitization can assist in a small way the long-term
preservation of cultural resource materials, by allowing easy production
of many copies. However, digitization is best at increasing access,
through digital surrogates placed on school networks, the Internet or
printed out on demand for users, so the original item can remain safe
behind locked doors. Unfortunately, digital surrogates placed on the
Internet also usually increase the demand for the use of the original
item, thereby potentially causing more damage and shortening the life of
IV. Baker's Wrap
Baker works with a broad brush in this volume, ignoring the
financial realities in librarianship, implying conspiracies where there
are none, and suggestively highlighting linkages between librarianship and
the "military-industrial complex." Baker also zealously obsesses over only
a small piece of the information universe, all the while painting
librarians as the "Barney Fifes" of the information age.
Unfortunately, there is some truth in Baker's book. Books
should never have been microfilmed and then discarded, and the various
other library schemes mentioned are embarrassing in retrospect. There have
been mistakes made in the past by the library profession, as librarians
fell prey to quick fixes promised by technology or smooth talkers. This
can happen in any profession. There is still no one better qualified to
make the tough decisions involving the permanent retention of our recorded
cultural heritage than librarians, aided by the valuable input of
Most important, Mr. Baker's book, and the recent CLIR
report, have (we can hope) started a long overdue national discussion on
the societal value (and monetary costs) of the long-term preservation of
some of our country^Ňs most important cultural resource materials.
This review attempts to address issues other reviews of
Baker's book have neglected or glossed over. For other reviews of
Double Fold, see the Nicholson Baker fan page ; Barbara Quint,
"Searcher's Voice: Don't Burn Books! Burn Librarians! A Review of
Nicholson Baker's Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper,"
Searcher, vol. 9, no. 6, June 2001, ; the Association of Research
Libraries response, "Talking Points in Response to Nicholson Baker," ;
Neil McAllister, "Can Digital Media Match the Longevity of Plain Old
Print?" ; Michiko Kakutani, "Microfilm Gets a Black Eye >From a Friend of
Paper," The New York Times, April 10, 2001; David Gates, "Paper
Chase: Nicholson Baker makes a case for saving old books and newspapers,"
The New York Times, April 15, 2001; Robert Darnton, "The Great Book
Massacre," The New York Review of Books, April 26, 2001; Julian
Dibbell, "The Paper Chase," Village Voice Literary Supplement,
April 2001; Michael Dirda, "Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on
Paper by Nicholson Baker," The Washington Post, April 15, 2001;
Barbara Fisher, "Book Review Short Takes: 'Double Fold' by Nicholson
Baker," The Boston Globe, April 22, 2001; Katherine A. Powers, "The
rage for destruction at libraries," The Boston Globe, April 22,
2001; Earl L. Daschslager, "Fahrenheit 98.6: Scholar says librarians are
destroying our printed heritage," The Houston Chronicle, April 29,
2001; two articles by Richard J. Cox, Professor of Archives and Records
Management at the University of Pittsburgh School of Library of
Information Sciences, for an archivist's perspective: "The Great Newspaper
Caper: Backlash In he Digital Age," at ; "Don't Fold Up: Responding to
Nicholson Baker's Double Fold," at the Society of American Archivists web
site: ; "Logging in With Nicholson Baker," The Chronicle of Higher
Education, May 18, 2001, p. A40; and Alexander Star, "The Paper
Pusher," The New Republic Online, May 28, 2001, available at .
. See Barbara Quint, "Searcher's Voice: Don't Burn
Books! Burn Librarians! A Review of Nicholson Baker's Double Fold:
Libraries and the Assault on Paper," Searcher, vol. 9, no. 6, June
2001, available at: ; and Association of Research Libraries, Talking
Points in Response to Nicholson Baker's Article in the 24 July New Yorker,
available at .
. Information about Baker can be found at a fan's web
. "Discards," New Yorker, (4 April 1994), pp.
64-70+, reprinted in his The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber.
(New York: Vintage Books, 1997): pp. 125-174.
. The speech was later printed in the New Yorker,
"The Author vs. the Library," 14 October 1996, pp. 50-63, and in a San
Francisco collection entitled "Weeds: A Talk at the Library," In
San Francisco: History,
Politics, Culture, A City Light Anthology.
Edited by James Brook, Chris Carlsson & Nancy J. Peters. (San Francisco:
City Lights, 1998): pp. 35-50, with photographs.
. Information on the Harvard Depository can be found at
. Information on the remote storage facility of the University of Texas at
Austin General Libraries can be found in "Offsite Storage at UT Austin,"
The Abbey Newsletter, vol. 16, no. 7-8, December 1992, available at
. Richard D. Altick, The Art of Literary Research.
(New York: Norton, 1963): pp. 140-141. I thank Professor Richard J. Cox
for this citation.
. A couple of examples: on p. 83, "our library of last
resort," and on p. 102, "as the national library..."
. "The Mission and Strategic Priorities of the Library
of Congress, FY 1997-2004" found at the Library of Congress web site, .
. Although I was unable quickly to place my hands
(browser) on library funding statistics all the way back to the 1970s to
prove what I know anecdotally to be true, a few documents found on the
Internet mention the lack of funding for libraries during that time. A
history of the Library of Congress, found at , describes the "fiscal
retrenchments of the 1970s." A research paper found at the Association of
College and Research Libraries web site by Charles B. Osburn, Dean of
Libraries at the University of Alabama, entitled "One Purpose: The
Research University and Its Library," mentions the shrinking amount of
money available in the 1970s for post-secondary education when compared to
other national issues. Also, a research paper digest from ERIC entitled
"Library Funding," found at , mentions "library budgets suffering major
setbacks in the 1970s."
. See the NCC Washington Update, vol. 7, no. 17,
April 25, 2001, available on H-Law and H-Net, and subsequent issues of the
Update, for details of this debate. At last report (the issue of
May 11, 2001), Congress had attempted to fund the NHPRC at a higher level
than the President^Ňs request of a 31% budget cut, and may in the end
obtain for the department a budget increase.
. See Elaine Scolino, "Smithsonian's Board Votes to
Shut Artifact Preservation Center," The New York Times, May 8,
2001, accessible on the web at .
. "Caring for the Past, Managing for the Future:
Federal Stewardship and America's Historic Legacy," is available at .
. Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections,
The Evidence in Hand: the Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in
Library Collections. DRAFT. Council on Library and Information
Resources, May 2001, available at .
. Nicholson Baker, "Deadline: The Author's Desperate
Bid to Save America's Past," The New Yorker, July 24, 2000, pp.
Library of Congress
Call Number: Z695.655 .B35 2001
* Libraries -- United States -- Special collections
* Newspaper and periodical libraries -- United States.
* Newspapers -- Conservation and restoration.
* Paper -- Preservation -- United States.
Citation: Mark Lambert . "Review of Nicholson Baker, Double
Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper," H-Law, H-Net Reviews, June,
“Librarians argue that…papers are turning to dust and that only microfilms
last. [Baker] shows that the opposite is the case: papers will survive
if properly stored and microfilms do not last forever. The real reason
for the policy of wholesale destruction is the need to use the space taken
by papers for other purposes…This is a passionately argued case that
exposes a less than pleasant state of affairs.”
review of Double-Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, by
Nicholson Baker, Contemporary Review 281 (August 2002): 125-126.