Sunday, March 25, 2012

The end of an era

So, this was in my email last week:

After nearly 250 years, the 32-volume Encyclopædia Britannica print set will be discontinued.

Encyclopædia Britannica is going completely digital. The 2010 print set will be the final edition and is available at The Britannica Store only while supplies last! Don’t miss this final opportunity to own one of the most important printed reference collections of all time.

Supplies are limitedget yours before it is too late!

       Kinda sad isn't it? Wasn't it one of those things that families strived to own - if only one volume at a time? Didn't it solidify the middle class? Do you remember hearing in school,  "What? Your family doesn't own an encyclopedia set? Well I guess you can come over and use mine." 

     Then came the internet. It snuck up on us and suddenly those late night memories of, "Oh yeah, my teacher says my report is due Monday" quickly turned into internet searches for facts. Rather than search the entire internet I subscribed my family to the online Encyclopedia Britannica. And just recently, our local library has linked with EBSCO so the kids have as much access as I have at the college now, for free. I guess it couldn't be helped - we all need immediate access and no one wants to share volume "N" and take turns like they used to. Still, like film cameras, it's one of those things that letting go of is a little bit sad. 

Also, it makes me feel like HG Wells was right when he wrote The Time Machine. I can still feel the horror when the time traveller puts his arm through the last set of books on earth and they turned to dust. At least I hope they remembered to back them up on a thumb drive!

Did your family own a set? Did your uncle go door to door selling them when he was out of work? Do you use an online encyclopedia or just random pages? Does it make you feel creeped out like Time Machine?


Post a Comment