literacy | October 30, 2012

Libraries are Machines for Learning: Culture Speaker Lev Grossman [VIDEO]

In an age where the eBook is king and digital is overtaking print, will libraries survive? Culture speaker Lev Grossman says the institution is indeed threatened—but he also presents a compelling argument as to why we should all be fighting for its preservation. As a writer himself (Grossman is a journalist and the author of The Magicians series), Grossman has an affinity for the tranquil and almost romantic ambiance that a library full of tangible, paper books exudes.

"Libraries are these huge architectural machines for helping you concentrate," Grossman says in a heartfelt interview with Lavin. "They're like brothels for books—they put you in this wonderfully intimate interaction with the text which is hard to get anywhere else...where you're traversing this landscape of knowledge." This might seem like a counter-intuitive argument coming from someone who is also the lead technology writer at TIME, however, Grossman says that while he's fascinated by technology—he isn't necessarily "in love with it."  He argues that there are absolutely some types of information that thrive in the digital and electronic space, but that some things just "aren't meant to be searched." And the novel, he says, is one of them. He also adds that he's not a "Luddite" (he isn't adverse to the advent of technology), but he does have firm opinions about which mediums are best kept as is and which stand to improve through the use of new technologies.

Grossman specializes in the intersection of new technology and culture. Having interviewed some of the world's most recognizable names from both the digital and analog world—from Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates to Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling—he is in a unique position to be able to critique culture through the lens of technology. He speaks candidly and passionately about the present state of fiction writing as well as the way reading and writing is changing in an increasingly digitized world. Drawing from the insights of some of today's most brilliant creatives, Grossman combines his own insights into the mix to give a truly holistic interpretation of the way art and technology affects our lives.

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