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Debatte um die Ueberlieferung von Zeitungen in den USA
- Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2001 02:52:47 +0200
- From: Klaus Graf <graf _at__ uni-koblenz.de>
- Subject: Debatte um die Ueberlieferung von Zeitungen in den USA
Ueber die aktuelle amerikanische Debatte zu Nicholson Bakers Buch, eine
Anklageschrift gegen die Praxis amerikanischer Bibliotheken verfilmte
Zeitungen auszusondern, informieren mit weiteren WWW-Nachweisen die
folgenden Auszuege aus der Liste Exlibris. Diese Diskussion verdient
auch in hiesigen Digitalisierungs-Kreisen Beachtung.
EXLIBRIS Digest 1981
> Topic No. 4
> Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 12:33:22 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Jack Kessler <kessler _at__ well.com>
> Has anyone here read Robert Darnton's extraordinary review of
> Nicholson Baker's more extraordinary condemnation of librarians,
> in the current NY Review of Books? I see a note about it here
> from MarnixA _at__ aol.com on April 8, but no subsequent discussion.
> The Darnton review, _The Great Book Massacre_ is online at,
> and Baker's book is,
> Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper
> by Nicholson Baker
> 370 pages, $25.95 (hardcover)
> published by Random House
> and both sound to me like *must* reading for any fan or foe of
> books, libraries, "preservation and access", conservation, and
> for any librarian.
> Librarians are the target: as Darnton says, of Baker's
> descriptions of librarians in the book,
> "They make a strange cast of characters: butchers of
> books from the unlikely world of libraries. Baker
> describes them as civil, cultivated, and generally genial
> -- the unassuming types you would expect to encounter
> behind old oak desks in book-lined studies. Making the
> most of his novelist's touch, he introduces each
> character with telling bits of description. They wear
> 'quiet silk scarves,' bow ties, and understated suits.
> "They gaze out at you from beneath 'wise-looking
> eyebrows' and 'cheerfully bald' foreheads or through
> 'large, rectilinear glasses similar to those Joyce Carol
> Oates used to wear in pictures.' Such gentle souls could
> not possibly be vandals, you tell yourself. And that
> response puts you under the spell of Baker's rhetoric,
> because he tries to show that the barbarians are not at
> the gate: they are already in the temple, destroying its
> treasures and doing so all the more effectively because
> they pad about in sensible shoes and tweed..."
> As one who is "cheerfully bald" but does not answer to the rest
> of the description, I can tell you that the Darnton / Baker
> combination here makes for devastating but very entertaining
> reading -- both of these guys really can write -- so long as you
> don't answer to the full description yourself.
> Baker's immediate target appears to be the deaccessioning and
> newspaper - and - book destruction of digitization -- the bogeys
> about which he made so much fuss in his New Yorker / San
> Francisco Public Library attacks, of which this book apparently
> is the outgrowth. Now, though, he feels he has found the culprit,
> as well: the librarians -- and he "names names" -- again in
> Darnton's prose,
> "As jeremiads go, this is an odd one. Wickedness has
> provided material for lamentation in America since the
> days of the Puritans. But instead of ranting against the
> whore of Babylon, Baker aims his indignation at Marion
> the librarian -- not, of course, the small-time,
> small-town keepers of books, but their high-minded,
> high-flying superiors: Patricia Battin, for example,
> formerly the librarian of Columbia University, who led
> the 'assault on paper' from the Commission on
> Preservation and Access and received an award from
> President Clinton in 1999 for 'saving history'..."
> So it seems there is no "acid paper problem", in Baker's
> view. I'll send him all of my old, rotting, Penguins...
> Darnton's own view on the librarian role,
> "Misguided zealots misdiagnosed a problem, and produced a
> national catastrophe by spreading misinformation..."
> is as devastating as Baker's, and will be at least as
> influential. And things are moving already: new professional
> standards (CLIR) under discussion, Darnton says,
> "coincide with some of Nicholson Baker's recommendations
> and represent a repudiation of the policies that he
> condemned and that were propagated by the former Council
> on Library Resources."
> Does this mean no more digitization? Are these 2 guys heading off
> our entire effort at dealing with acid paper and preservation?
> I haven't read Baker's book -- only Darnton's review -- Amazon is
> sending the Baker opus out to me via 1-click now. In the meantime
> I'd be greatly interested in reading any views, here, on either
> Darnton's review or Baker's book.
> Jack Kessler, kessler _at__ well.sf.ca.us
> Topic No. 5
> Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 16:14:26 -0400 (EDT)
> From: "William S. Peterson" <wsp _at__ wam.umd.edu>
> I've just finished reading Baker's book (and Darnton's review), and I can
> report that the book is immensely readable and persuasive, though I don't
> subscribe to all of his conspiracy theories. (He seems to think, for
> example, that the CIA is ultimately responsible for all forms of
> wickedness in the world.) I'm a non-librarian myself but a heavy user of
> libraries, and I'll be most interested to see how the professionals
> respond to this book.
> William S. Peterson
> University of Maryland
> wsp _at__ wam.umd.edu
> Topic No. 6
> Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 13:21:20 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Jack Kessler <kessler _at__ well.com>
> The CIA ?! And acid paper / book preservation / librarians ?!!
> Now I _know_ I'm going to enjoy this. The age of innocence is
> lost -- like when we all found out that the Peace & Freedom Party
> was really just a 60s CIA front...
> Topic No. 7
> Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 15:27:32 -0500
> I direct you to the article link below, by Richard J. Cox, archival
> studies professor at the UPittsburgh, for a good counter-point to Baker
> from the archives profession.
> Mark Lambert
> Special Collections and Government Documents Librarian
> South Texas College of Law Library
> Houston, TX
> Topic No. 12
> Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 17:02:09 -0400
> From: "RONALD SMELTZER" <rsmeltzer _at__ sarnoff.com>
> The actions of the library community exposed by Baker's book suggest
> that the role of the private collector in the preservation of our
> heritage is more important than ever.
> The volumes in my collection, spanning the 17th - 20th centuries, are
> much better cared for than is possible in most libraries, from what I
> Ronald K. Smeltzer
> Topic No. 13
> Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 17:00:50 -0400
> From: "Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer" <c_crawfo _at__ culinary.edu>
> This book has been a major source of discussion on the Archives e-mail list for the past couple of weeks. Besides the URLs already sent to the list, there are a couple of others that are interesting discussions:
> US News article about the book: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/010423/library.htm
> Another article by Richard Cox, on the Society of American Archivists web site: http://www.archivists.org/news/doublefold.html
> There is some speculation that Baker's book may cause the plight of preservation to get more attention and more funding. Although I haven't read the book, from the information I've learned about it in reviews, I'm afraid it will go the other way: People will read the book and not understand that, while some of it is true, some of it is exaggeration, and some discusses practices no longer followed, and will decide that those evil librarians shouldn't get any more funding if all they are going to
> Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer
> Special Collections Librarian/Archivist
Topic No. 15
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 14:38:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jack Kessler <kessler _at__ well.com>
Ronald Smeltzer said,
> The actions of the library community exposed by Baker's book
> suggest that the role of the private collector in the
> preservation of our heritage is more important than ever.
> The volumes in my collection, spanning the 17th - 20th
> centuries, are much better cared for than is possible in most
> libraries, from what I observe.
This may be true but it would be a shame as well -- the role of
libraries in preservation being subverted by "control"
controversies which do not touch private individuals or
The "public library" intention has been to provide for both
preservation and access in a single, public, institution. If
preservation is allowed to choke off access so much that people
cannot find and use materials, or if access demands are allowed
to erode the preservation effort, either way the "library" is not
be able to fulfill its dual role.
Returning that role to the private collector or commercial dealer
will take us all back several centuries... or perhaps to France,
where preservation always has been more the primary task of a
library, at least until recently...
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