Since the 1950s, some of the world's greatest libraries have, as a matter of common practice, dismantled their collections of original bound newspapers and books, replacing them with microfilmed copies. The originals, often irreplaceable, are cut up to be sold as birthday gifts or are pulped. In this book the real motives behind the dismantling of ...
Since the 1950s, some of the world's greatest libraries have, as a matter of common practice, dismantled their collections of original bound newspapers and books, replacing them with microfilmed copies. The originals, often irreplaceable, are cut up to be sold as birthday gifts or are pulped. In this book the real motives behind the dismantling of our recorded heritage is examined. The libraries argue that paper is too fragile to be stored in their archives, and point to the so-called brittle paper crisis. The author argues that paper can be stored for years and that libraries are under budgetary pressure to save space.
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This fascinatingly detailed study of the failure of some of our most trusted archives to preserve significant historical documents, newspapers, is worth reading for anyone who believes that knowledge of the past informs the present and future. The writer explores the personalities , politics, and funding behind some of the decisions to destroy old books and periodical literature while presenting a manufactured "crisis" requiring that this be done in order to "preserve" them. He carefully explains the processes and the unsatisfactory results - i.e digitized records are dependent on changing technologies and are more unstable than the somewhat fragile paper originals they are intended to replace. The book is short and readable, makes no pretense to be anything other than opinionated, but backs up opinions with research, interviews, and facts.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-04-02 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.
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