As a champion of Internet culture as a force for good, Clive Thompson seems like an unlikely enthusiast of the traditional book. But during his recent lecture at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, Thompson had good things to say about the bound paper volumes that fill the library’s collection.
“I like paper. I like it a lot,” said Thompson, a longtime contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired, the popular magazine about emerging technology. “It has marvelous ergonomics.”
But even though he likes the feel, look and heft of traditional books, Thompson mentioned that digital formats have advantages, too. Thanks to a new digital publishing feature, said Thompson, readers of his book could scribble in the margins of his text for others within an online community, a springboard for lively discussions.
Thompson’s new book, “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better,” discusses how digital know-how is enabling people to learn more and do more than ever before. But he also made the point that new technology doesn’t always have to displace what came before it. Often, new and old forms of communication can exist side by side.
Thompson’s message seemed especially relevant as he kicked off the library’s first “after hours” program, a lecture and reception held beyond the library’s typical closing time on Fridays.
As the event reminded us, the new library is a great meeting place, with a beautiful, spacious auditorium and a lovely open-air reception area that offers an expansive view of Independence Park. The new building also dramatically upgrades the library’s technological capacity, with large banks of computers and a heightened profile for e-books.
Even as digital culture thrives, libraries can continue to play an important role as community meeting places and sources of information. Baton Rouge residents should be proud of the new Main Library at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. — and visit the new building if they haven’t already.