For middle class families in the 1950, having an Encyclopaedia Brittanica set in your living room or den was a huge thing. A real big deal.
It wasn’t cheap and many families had to pay them off over the course of many months.
I remember visiting friends or relatives who had a set and staring in wonder at all the amazing facts to be found within the leather bound volumes.
I’m not even sure kids today know what an encyclopedia is, or that one of their favorite online reference tools borrows part of its name from the now almost obsolete physical counterparts.
The Digital Age is a big reason for the end of the 244 year tradition.
Information is so much more accessible to us through a few simple moments and clicks on a keyboard.
Whether it’s our laptops, desktops, smartphones or tablets, we can now access this information a zillion miles away from a library or den.
I will still miss the tradition and nostalgic quality of having TANGIBLE encyclopedias to flip through and learn from.
Encyclopedias were a staple of my childhood and I don’t think I ever got through a school essay or term paper without annotated encyclopedia entries in the bibliographies of my assignments.
And I have memories of encyclopedia salesmen ringing the doorbell. Remember THOSE days??
Sure the Internet is more accessible and “alive” with multimedia tools and the ability to instantly update information.
But what makes me really sad is that kids today don’t seem any smarter than we were. If anything, so many areas in our society and world seem DUMBED DOWN.
How can this be??
How is it that kids AND adults today can access just about ANY ANSWER TO ANY QUESTION mankind has ever had and yet not be flowing sources of knowledge and wisdom??
I am constantly reminding our own kids that the same Internet that gives them silly, time wasting videos and mindless online games can also provide answers to most if not all of their questions.
Yes, I sound really old but when I was a kid, we rode our bikes to the library to find the answers in big rooms lined with huge and heavy books we weren’t allowed to take home.
Some of us were lucky enough to have a set of Encyclopaedia Brittanica or World Books or other encyclopedias and could spend many hours on a rainy day learning about so many wonderful and amazing things.
The final print edition is the 2010 set and sells on the company’s website for $1,395.
Farewell print edition. We Old School fans will miss you.
And just a parting thought. How many things enjoyed today will be around 244 years from now?