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Vandals in the Stacks?: A Response to Nicholson Baker's Assault on Libraries (Contributions in Librarianship and Information Science) Hardcover – August 30, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0313323447 ISBN-10: 0313323445

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Novelist and essayist Baker burst onto the library scene with his famous (infamous?) 1994 New Yorker essay attacking libraries for discarding old card catalogs. In 2000, Baker attacked libraries for discarding old newspapers, also in The New Yorker, and then a year later in his book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (Random, 2001). Archivist and University of Pittsburgh professor Cox began responding to Baker early on, first with some sympathy regarding the historical value of our old catalogs but then with growing dismay at Baker's "save everything" mentality. The Society of American Archivists requested an answer to Baker's book, and that grew into this book. Unlike Baker's work, which was aimed at the general public, Cox's response is aimed at professional librarians and archivists. This is a valuable book for anyone who is queried about Baker's attacks. Baker has sounded an alarm, inspiring significant public concern. Here are the foundations for a calm, reasoned, professional response. James D. Anderson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


.,."a must-read for all librarians."-American Libraries

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Product Details

  • Series: Contributions in Librarianship and Information Science, (Book 98)
  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (August 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313323445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313323447
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,992,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mark Howells on October 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides a reasoned and erudite response from the professional librarian and archivist community to Nicholson Baker's "Double Fold". Think that Baker over-made his case against the CIA/library conspiracy to destroy our print heritage? You're right - he did. In the interests of writing a ripping good yarn, Baker played fast and loose with the facts. Remember, he's a novelist, not an investigative reporter.
Richard Cox brings years of professional archival practice and scholarship to bear on the fallacies of "Double Fold". Cox rationalizes the debate by asking profound questions about how society should decide what it preserves among competing wants with limited resources, the best methods for preservation, and what the implications for Baker's solution of "saving everything" will be in our electronic age.
Most interesting perhaps is Cox's review of Nicholson Baker's public statements on the TV and lecture circuit regarding his "Double Fold" crusade. Obviously, consistency is not one of Baker's hobgoblins. He seems to have made a career out of repeatedly contradicting what he wrote in "Double Fold". Of extreme value in Cox's response is his focus on how Baker has brought the previously private library science debate on what materials to preserve and how into the public realm. Although he disagrees with Baker's caricature of librarians, Cox argues that the public perceptions of librarianship and archival responsibilities should be of extreme concern to the profession.
Cox doesn't just do a hatchet job. He uses "Double Fold" with all its warts as part of his graduate courses for archivists. Cox believes that Baker has done the profession a favor by shaking it up a bit and bringing preservation issues into public debate. The only criticism I have of the book is that its arguments are at time redundant.
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