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Word Count: 610
Paper wars Double Fold Libraries and the Assault on Paper Nicholson Baker Vintage Settle yourself in for the long haul when reading Double Fold This isnt because it is a long or boring book It is because just about every paragraph will make you wince pace about the room or even feel close to tears of rage I found the following indispensable while reading it an asthma inhaler some allegedly soothing aromatherapy oil and finally a large bottle of gin This is the problem Some years ago Nicholson Baker - who as you know is a very talented writer indeed - wrote a piece for the New Yorker about how libraries were abandoning their old card-index catalogues in favour of computerised systems Big deal you might think However he made an eloquent case for their survival which I think you can read in his essay collection The Size of Thoughts But he then found out something more worrying libraries were replacing their newspaper and book collections with microfilmed copies Fine you might say libraries need the space the paper is disintegrating and who needs a complete run of the Laramie Republic and Boomerang 1916-49 103 volumes anyway It turns out that such reasoning is flawed based on false or misleading premises And Nicholson with all the intelligence wit and doggged monomania that we know is at his command blows these arguments right out of the water Let us consider what microfilming a book entails guillotining the spine photographing every page - and then throwing every page away The standard test for whether a volume is sound enough to survive on the shelves is called the Double Fold test You can do it yourself You fold a corner of a page back on itself Then you fold it the other way Then you give it a tug Repeat the process If the paper snaps after a few times the number depends on which
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