SAA Council's Response to Nicholson Baker's Double Fold
May/June 2001 issue of Archival Outlook, Richard Cox has provided
an excellent overview of Nicholson Baker's book, Double Fold. Council
agrees with the overall tone of Richard Cox's overview and response, and
especially endorses the following major points:
conclusions are based on a flawed analysis. The fundamental weakness
of Baker's argument is his belief, more implicit than explicit, that
everything can and must be saved in its original state.
Archivists know that our responsibility to society and our employing
institutions is to be selective about what is saved.
- To keep
both the originals and copies, as Baker suggests, is not possible due
to the competing priorities and limited resources facing every library
conspiratorial view of the library community's campaign to convey the
urgency of preservation needs to the public, along with the implication
that the campaign contained lies and concealed evidence of misdeeds,
is entirely unfounded.
appears to be an individual who loves libraries but does not understand
them. He also does not seem to understand the difference between libraries
Baker's analysis is flawed, he does raise a number of points which deserve
debate and a response from the archives and library communities, in
particular the need to:
re-evaluate the original analyses of
the condition of paper;
in the needs of users and the preservation of our documentary heritage;
the education of librarians, archivists and preservation administrators;
that we are in the selecting, not warehousing, business; and
the costs associated with preservation and reformatting.
Council of the Society of American Archivists, May 7, 2001