Over the last half century librarians have strip-mined American history.
Unique collections of newspapers and millions of books were destroyed in the name of preservation, at least according to novelist Nicholas Baker. In a series of articles and now a book, Baker challenges what he says is the misguided belief that old paper is about to crumble. In fact, he says, original documents, even old pulp magazines, are tough and resilient, in better shape, he charges, than the microfilm that was supposed to replace them. Nicholson Baker’s charges of incompetence, greed and foolishness do not fit our image of librarians as custodians of our civilization.
And a director of the Library of Congress fires back, calling Nicholson’s book “an unsubstantiated screed.” Who wants yesterday’s papers?
(Hosted by Neal Conan)
Nicholson Baker, author of “Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper”
Mark Roosa, director for preservation at the Library of Congress.