We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.


When ninth grade hit, I got my first job: working interlibrary loan among the stacks in Rockville. For minimum wage (back then, about $3.35 an hour), I got to enjoy the scent of fresh carbons, the naughty-sounding word “microfeesh,” a desk wedged between two miserable polyestered women, and the glowing, humming treasure chest of the snack machine. In this place, escape meant heading to the magazine archives room. I could spend hours in there, undetected, indulging in old People mags—sharing my Orange Slice with a Smokey-era Burt Reynolds and marveling at ads for Buick Regals and busty bras. OK, not to mention the secret stash of Playboys (Victoria Principal!). Nicholson Baker, the man who brought you Vox—which, in turn, brought phone sex to Monica and the Big Creep—wonders where all that old yellowed print went. In Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper—a Fast Food Nation for bookworms—Baker exposes libraries for their dumping of old books and newspapers in favor of sloppy and expensive microfilm. He lays bare the mass slaughter—of old Hearst papers, classic comics, and books by the truckload—by some of the country’s most renowned libraries, including the domed mother we have in our midst. And given the current state of libraries—where the joy of reading has been compromised by a series of hoops, wires, and buzzing connections—Baker’s book couldn’t have been better timed. Baker reads at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Jason Cherkis)