So Encyclopedia Britannica is stopping publication of it’s print set. I wasn’t a fan of Encyclopedia Britannica, being raised on World Book and Children’s Book Encyclopedia series, but it’s interesting what’s taking place in this modern age. When I was a kid, I was really inquisitive. I would bug my mom about knowing stuff, asking questions constantly, where she would always tell me to go look things up. I think this is one of the reasons I chose to be a librarian; I got really good at looking things up.
I learned all kinds of things from the encyclopedia set my mom bought us. I learned about dinosaurs, UFOs, space, and even how the world was going to end. I remember my mom reading me how the sun was going to go out and compress into a dwarf star and kill all living life on Earth. Thanks, mom. That gave me a ton of nightmares for months. My 8 year old self would look into the sky, waiting for the sun to extinguish, freezing everything in sight.
What I think is interesting is that future students aren’t going to thumb through encyclopedias sets such as these. Everything is readily available on phones, computers…I’m waiting for the day we’re able to jack our brains directly into a network. What I’m predicting is that people are going to learn differently than I ever had. I mean, it wasn’t just the content that I was looking at when reading those encyclopedias, but how it was presented. Even the font on the page had some sort of authority when looking through those sets. Now, it’s just going to be pure content, with a potential lack of those little things that made such tomes authoritative. I just hope that however people learn, folks will question what they read.