Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper Paperback – April 9, 2002
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
All writers of course love the printed word, but few are those willing to start foundations in order to preserve it. Not only has noted novelist Baker (The Mezzanine; Vox; etc.) done so, he's also written a startling expos of an ugly conspiracy perpetuated by the very people entrusted to preserve our history librarians. Baker started the American Newspaper Repository in 1999, when he discovered that the only existing copies of several major U.S. newspapers were going to be auctioned off by the British Library. Not only were U.S. libraries not interested, it turned out that they'd tossed their own copies years before. Why? Baker uncovered an Orwellian universe in our midst in which preservation equals destruction, and millions of tax dollars have funded and continue to fund the destruction of irreplaceable books, newspapers and other print media. The instruments of that destruction microfilm, microfiche, image readers and toxic chemicals are less to blame than the cadre of former CIA and military operatives at the Library of Congress in the 1950s who refused to acknowledge that those technologies were, in fact, inferior to preserving and storing the originals. They were more concerned with ways to (in the words of one) "extract profit and usefulness from" old books while at the same time "prevent [them] from clogging the channels of the present." Baker details these events in one horrifying chapter after another, and he doesn't mince words. One can only gasp in outraged disbelief as he describes the men and women who, while supposedly serving as responsible custodians of our history, have chosen instead to decimate it. (on-sale Apr. 10) Forecast: The genesis of this book, an article in the New Yorker, generated quite a fuss, and this book is bound to receive attention in the print media. The subject and the passion with which the case is made guarantee healthy sales.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Pulling no punches, novelist Baker (Vox) is a romantic, passionate troublemaker who questions the smug assumptions of library professionals and weeps at the potential loss of an extensive, pristine run of Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. For him, the wholesale destruction of books and newspapers to the twin gods of microfilming and digitization is an issue of administrators seeking storage space not of preserving a heritage. He contends that the alarmist slogans "brittle books" and "slow fires" are intended to obscure the reality and the destruction. Throughout his book, Baker hammers away at the Orwellian notion that we must destroy books and newspapers in order, supposedly, to save them. Particularly singled out for opprobrium are University Microfilms Inc. and the Library of Congress. This extremely well-written book is not a paranoid rant. Just this past October, Werner Gundersheimer, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, said at LC's "Preserve and Protect" symposium that, amid all the smoke and fury, Baker was essentially pleading for "a last copy effort of some kind." Double Fold is the narrative of a heroic struggle: Picture Baker as "Offisa Pup" defending "Krazy Kat," of the printed word, against the villainous "Ignatz Mouse" of the library establishment all in glorious, vivid color on brittle (but unbowed) newsprint. Highly recommended for all libraries.
- Barry Chad, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I found it a *very* illuminating read and it made some really excellent points about how useful it is to carry projects without a clear sense of goal and direction. I thought his concerns about the privatisation of historical archive are very valid. I couldn't help but share his concerns about destruction in order to preserve. Moreover, the book is remarkably readable and occasionally very entertaining (the virgin mummy section, for example).
I'll be giving this one away as a Christmas gift to more than a few poeple on my gift list.
Baker's indictment reveals the extent of the loss, the foolish assumptions that led to it, and the military (!) bureaucrats who led the campaign. It is a terribly sad story but one that must be told and learned from if we are to avoid further losses. If you know a librarian, buy them a copy of the book, too (I can't imagine many libraries will put this book on the shelves!).
My only quibble with the book, and it's a small one, is that Baker has missed two important points:
1 - the microfilm companies are holding our nation's history hostage; by charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for a run of one newspaper on microfilm they are effectively keeping it out of the hands of libraries and, thus, researchers. If one of the reasons for the mass switch to microfilm was to cut costs, why didn't the libraries dictate terms to the microfilm companies when they started cutting up those precious bound volumes? Many libraries can't even afford to stock the microfilm of their hometown papers!
2 - because microfilm is so expensive, the stated problem of accessibility was not solved. One reason to photograph everything was so that researchers could have improved access to materials. In fact, the opposite has happened. Few libraries own microfilm, and those that do are unwilling to do inter-library loans. Thus, the researcher has to travel to the libraries to do their research or hire local researchers (a cottage industry these days).
No matter - Baker's passionate indictment hits plenty of high points; more than enough to convert most anyone (except perhaps the librarians who were duped for so long that they can't conceive of changing their positions).
I also salute Nicholson Baker for putting his money where his mouth is. His purchase of a good portion of the British Library's American newspaper archives (yes, even in 2000 the libraries are still gleefully disposing of paper) is excellent news. I only wish I'd known about the sale at the time - I would have gladly participated. However, the libraries know darn well that their actions are a public relations nightmare, so they keep these mass disposals very quiet.
Buy this book! Loan it to friends! Get the word out!
I certainly got a jolt of energy from Double Fold. In it, Baker describes the destruction of the physical content of many of our nation's libraries in an effort to conserve space. Volumes of old newspapers and countless "brittle" books have had their contents transferred to microfilm. Supporters of this process claim this is necessary to save the intellectual content of paper products that are literally crumbling away. Baker argues, however, that, in most cases, this imminent loss of old books and newspapers is hype. Paper products such as books and newspapers have a longer life than is usually assumed and the "tests" of their strength (such as the test that gives this book its title) are often arbitrary and poorly designed.
Baker also points out the loss of quality that often accompanies the transfer to microfilm. If the effort truly is to save intellectual content, then that effort is often a failure. Many volumes of newsprint that was to be transferred to microfilm never made it and many volumes more are so poorly filmed as to be illegible. Additionally, as the film ages, the quality is reduced even more rapidly than an equivalent aging in the original paper. Many films that were once readable are quickly becoming garbage. With no originals from which to replace the film.
Here is where Baker's argument really struck home with me. When these "delicate" paper products are reduced to film, the original books and newspapers are destroyed. Not only are they sliced and diced during filming to make that process easier, the remains are thrown out. I never dreamed that when I sat at my hometown public library and scanned through old issues of the Quincy Herald-Whig and its predecessors on microfilm, that, somewhere, the old, physical, paper issues weren't still around. Maybe Quincy is lucky and someone has saved the old volumes somewhere but it seems unlikely. In my mind, that is a sad loss.
I guess this is why this particular book of Baker's moved me more than anything else he's written so far. In this particular passion, I am on Baker's side. I love books and newspapers. Not just their intellectual content but the objects themselves. I live in an apartment surrounded by thousands of books and newspapers, many of which are very old and in great shape. And, you know what? If I could get them all magically transferred to microfilm or CDROM and be guaranteed that all of their intellectual content could be saved, I wouldn't do it. There is a quality to the object itself that has value and is worth saving. I am a book collector.
While I was reading this book a friend of mine saw me and asked what the book is about. When I told her she said, "A whole book about that?" Yes. If you have any interest in books, newspapers or libraries, I suggest strongly that you read this book. It is well-written, passionate and, though there is no question where Baker's sympathies lie, he presents both sides of the story. You will learn a lot and, if you are anything like me, wish you had Baker's passion and resources to start a non-for-profit company and buy up some of these things to save them from destruction. It is a worthy passion.