Double Fold by Nicholson Baker
Libraries and the Assault on Paper

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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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Nicholson Baker

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Nicholson Baker is the author of nine novels and five works of nonfiction, including The Anthologist, Human Smoke, and Double Fold (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award). He lives in Maine with his family.
Published August 13, 2002 by Vintage. 384 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Double Fold

Kirkus Reviews

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In a passionate cri de coeur sure to raise controversy and alarm, novelist Baker (The Everlasting Story of Nory, 1998, etc.) accuses America’s librarians of betraying the public trust as they rush to microfilm and digitize.

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

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Book Reporter

The idea of throwing away old paper originals of books and newspapers appalls Baker to the point where he has spent a small fortune of his own money to rescue and store some of them himself.

Apr 09 2002 | Read Full Review of Double Fold: Libraries and th...

Entertainment Weekly

A polemic about library preservation practices is probably not going to appeal to fans of Baker's whimsical fiction, but the facts he presents are irrefutable and important: American and British libraries are destroying newspapers and ''brittle'' books in the name of shelf space, strip-minin...

Apr 20 2001 | Read Full Review of Double Fold: Libraries and th...

Project MUSE

So, libraries receiving public money should publish monthly lists of discards on their websites, so that there is some way of determining which libraries act responsibly on behalf of their collections?

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Project MUSE

(Baker is not, by the way, saying that reproductions should not be made or that they are not useful for some purposes but only that they should not be regarded as replacements for the originals.) Besides writing the book, Baker has contributed to the cause of preservation by establishing the Amer...

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