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"By Appointment"



In my humble opinion, there are many serious problems with what Mr. Baker =
has to say.  Among other things, as is typical of someone who has a =
penchant for the sensational, he conveniently excludes testimony that =
flatly contradicts his arguments.  Here are some points to consider:

(1) I worked in a newspaper microfilming project and I am an eyewitness to =
the fact that thousands and thousands of pages of newsprint had deteriorate=
d to the point where they could not be handled without falling apart.  =
They could not be moved from the shelves where they had been stored =
because they were literally disintegrating into flakes.  These were not =
flakes around the edges, but entire stacks of paper in a state of uniform =
disintegration.  This paper was not being crumpled for effect or folded, =
but simply being examined to see if it could be preserved in any way =
possible - microfilming was out of the question.  We tried to lift =
individual pages and even tried to figure out a way to encapsulate them, =
but nothing worked.  I flatly reject Mr. Baker's (or anyone else's) claims =
that this is not the case.

(2) No microfilm of any research material that I am aware of has been =
produced using acetate-based film since the mid 1980's.  All preservation =
microfilming since that period has been done using only extremely =
fine-grained silver emulsion polyester-based microfilm with an LE (Life =
Expectancy) rating of 500 years when properly created, processed and =
stored.  This filming is supported by a considerable body of national =
(ANSI/AIIM) and international (ISO) standards and library recommended =
practice.

(3) The problem of film deterioration is tremendously exaggerated in =
Baker's view.  All libraries have the option to evaluate and reduplicate =
deteriorating acetate negatives onto polyester stock before the filmed =
images are lost.  Acetate film deterioration is also greatly slowed down =
by placement of the material in cool or cold storage.  Reels can be stored =
to extend their lifepsans and duplicated onto fresh polyester stock over =
time.  There is a body of information on this subject.  For old reels of =
film with redox problems that have not eaten into the images to the point =
where they are unreadable, polysulfiding is an option.  There is also a =
body of information on this subject.

(4) Mr. Baker's miniaturized version of how much space a year's worth of a =
daily newspaper takes up is grossly misleading in light of the volume of =
papers he apparently expects a large public institution to acquire, =
organize and maintain on a permanent basis.  The cumulative space, HVAC, =
ongoing collection maintenance/monitoring, staffing and remote retrieval =
costs would be, as he might put it, "yodelingly high."  It is one thing to =
advocate the retention of every single piece of printed material; it is =
another to go on a great length about it without offering so much as a =
hint of an economically feasible means for doing so.  Space is a concern - =
but anyone with a newspaper, a ruler and a calculator can easily understand=
 why it's a concern.  All you need to do is measure and multiply.

(5) If Mr. Baker's paradigm were followed, access to the nation's cultural =
heritage as reflected in its newspapers would be restricted to those who =
could (a) afford to travel to ever-expanding, remote and/or geographically =
disparate repositories and use collections on a "by-appointment" basis, =
and (b) meet unspecified specific scholarly research qualifications.  To =
verify that this is the case, visit the website: http://www.gwi.net/~dnb/ne=
wsrep.html
This is the "American Newspaper Repository," where Baker's newspaper =
collection is housed.  The site contains the following statement:  =
"Researchers who submit a letter of inquiry can use the collection by =
appointment."  This is private, restricted and exclusive, not public, =
access.

Opinions are my own.

- Walter Cybulski

>>> cpalmer@ACCESSCABLE.NET 04/19/01 10:15AM >>>
There is  a review of this book  and a link to an excerpt at the Slate.com
book club for April 18. The link below might get you there. (never quite
sure when the URL is this complicated.)

http://slate.msn.com/code/BookClub/BookClub.asp?Show=3D4/18/2001&idMessage=
=3D751=20
9&idBio=3D250


Not being a librarian, I can't really comment. I do understand the space
problems that many librarians have, particularly dead storage for books =
that
are rarely read anymore. If there is little demand for a book from the
patrons of your particular library what should you do with it?

Anyway, some of the nicest books I have (including one from 1780) have =
come
from library sales.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dorothy Africa" <africa@LAW.HARVARD.EDU>
To: <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Sent: April 19, 2001 10:24 AM
Subject: Double Fold


>   So how many other members of the list are reading/have read Double
> Fold??  I am only as far as page 43 but already sad that an intelligent
> man and cogent writer like Nicholson Baker has focused his argument well
> past the urgent limitations facing libraries to hit the people most
> likely to have been his allies.  Undoubledly bad decisions have been
> made, and are still being made about preservation selection and methods,
> but he offers no reasonable scope to the debate, at least this far into
> his book.  For those of you beyond page 43, does it get better or worse?
>  Dorothy Africa
>
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