From tomes to technology
LIB 640 Information Sources and
What is an encyclopedia?
An encyclopedia is a set of books with articles on
every topic you can think of
Each article in the encyclopedia gives you
information about the topic
Guide words on used in an encyclopedia to help you
An encyclopedia has the topics in alphabetical
Click on the girl above to practice using an encyclopedia.
Origin of the word?
The word encyclopaedia comes from the Koine Greek
ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία, from Greek ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία,
transliterated enkyklios paideia, meaning “general
education”: enkyklios (ἐγκύκλιος), meaning
“circular, recurrent, required regularly, general”
+ paideia (παιδεία), meaning “education, rearing of a
child”. but it was reduced to a single word due to
an error by copyists of Latin manuscripts.
Together, the phrase literally translates as “complete
instruction” or “complete knowledge”.
From “Encyclopedia” on Wikipedia
Largest and earliest encyclopedia?
Yongle dadian, ( Chinese: “Great Canon
[literally, Vast Documents] of the Yongle Era”)
Chinese compilation that was the world’s largest
known encyclopaedia. Compiled during the Ming
dynasty (1368–1644) by thousands of Chinese
scholars under the direction of the Yongle
emperor (reigned 1402–24), it was completed in
Encyclopedia Britannica entry
The first English encyclopedia in all
“the first English
and also “appears to
be the first technical
dictionary in any
John Harris - Lexicon
Technicum - 1704 first
See also John Harris -
Lexicon Technicum -
1708 second edition
A more famous revision of
Ephraim Chambers (c.1680-1740)
Cyclopaedia. First edition, 1728
“Encyclopedia, or a
systematic dictionary of
the sciences, arts, and
crafts” was a general
in France between 1751
and 1766, with later
revisions in 1772, with
revised editions, and
A French “revision”
Diderot’s work translated
See the Introduction for more information about this project
Followed by a
First published in Edinburgh, Scotland,
in 1768; was published one section at a
time, in “fascicles,” over a three-year
period, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
2nd edition 10 vols. 1777-84.
9th ed. 1875-89. “Scholar’s edition.”
11th ed. 1910-11 first under US
ownership, but still with British
authorship. Full text online at The 1911
Move to Chicago and continuous
revision in 1930s
Encyclopedia or Dictionary?
the dictionary of arts and sciences was the more
direct predecessor of the modern encyclopedia.
e. g. John Harris’s Lexicon technicum (2 vols., 1704,
1710); and Ephraim Chambers’s (1680–1740)
Cyclopaedia (2 vols., 1728).
These works consisted of entries on terms (mainly
from the arts and sciences) in alphabetical order,
but they professed to be more than definitions of
words by also being descriptions of things.
Encyclopedism - Alphabetical Encyclopedias
Britannica’s big change
Britannica 3 (AKA 15th ed.).
First publ. 1974
Propaedia: single volume
systematic outline of
Micropaedia: 10 vols.,
102,000 entries, short
Macropaedia: 19 vols,
expansions of selected
topics from Micropaedia.
Britannica’s next big change
From print to electronic
LIKE typewriters and slide rules, the multivolume
encyclopedia has been rendered nearly extinct by the
microchip. But in the nine years since the first CD-ROM
encyclopedia appeared (Academic American, by Grolier
[this was in 1989]), it has become by far the dominant
format and has made encyclopedias far more available. For
the $1,500 price of the 32 hard-bound volumes of
Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, a parent can now
buy a budding scholar the same information on CD-ROM,
plus a computer to run it on and the Encarta and World
Book CD-ROM encyclopedias to boot.
A popular children’s encyclopedia
First published in 1971, World Book Encyclopedia is the
best selling print Encyclopedia set in the world. The
World Book Encyclopedia 2013 presents information in
an accessible, usable format that promotes learning.
World Book Encyclopedia 2013 is designed to meet the
reference needs of students from elementary school
through high school and beyond.
Why Buy the 2013 World Book Encyclopedia?
And then there was Wikipedia
Actually, Nupedia came first:
Nupedia was a Web-based encyclopedia whose articles
were written by experts and licensed as free content. It
was founded by Jimmy Wales and underwritten by
Bomis, with Larry Sanger as editor-in-chief. Nupedia
lasted from March of 2000 until September of 2003, and
is mostly known now as the predecessor of the free wiki
See also Larry Sanger’s The Early History of Nupedia
and Wikipedia: A Memoir
Type of site Internet encyclopedia project
Nupedia was organized by subject, with subject editors
Anyone can edit?
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, written
collaboratively by the people who use it. It is a special
type of website designed to make collaboration easy,
called a wiki. Many people are constantly improving
Wikipedia, making thousands of changes per hour.
All of these changes are recorded in article histories
and recent changes. For a more detailed account of
the project, see About Wikipedia.
Don't be afraid to edit – anyone can edit
almost every page, and we are encouraged
to be bold!
Discussion about Wikipedia
. . . once given the freedom (to edit), will people
abuse it? Most certainly. Many observers have
already expressed concerns over Wikipedia’s
shortcomings, pointing to valid examples of
editorial inferiority, yet many others have been
charmed by its concept and astonished by its up-
to-dateness. Some have gone so far as to claim
they prefer it to the venerable (albeit not free)
Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
I Want My Wikipedia! by Barry X. Miller, Karl Helicher, &
Teresa Berry -- Library Journal, 4/1/2006
[The file is uploaded to CANVAS]
Harvard debate page
This is a Harvard Business School case study about
a specific article on Wikipedia, but it includes some
useful review material about Encyclopedias in
general, Wikipedia's Birth, Nupedia, the evolution
From Nupedia to Wikipedia, a state of the website
Wikipedia in 2006, and a review of the Debates and
Harvard Business School Professors Karim R. Lakhani and Andrew
P. McAfee prepared this case. . . . HBS cases are developed solely as the
basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of
primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.
Should we dismiss Wikipedia?
Probably not, just be careful, though!
Because of its up-to-date information, Wikipedia will
attract high school and college students. However, as with
much information floating around in cyberspace, a
healthy degree of skepticism and skill at winnowing fact
from opinion are required.
Karl Helicher, Director of Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of
Prussia, PA in “I Want My Wikipedia!”
Despite its flaws, however, Wikipedia should not be
dismissed. Although the writing is not exceptional, good
Teresa Berry, Associate Professor/Science Librarian at the Univ.
of Tennessee Libs., Knoxville in “I Want My Wikipedia!”
One solution to Wikipedia
Welcome to Citizendium, an endeavor to provide free
knowledge with the highest standards of writing, reliability,
and comprehensiveness. We welcome anyone who wants to
share information by writing well-researched and
authoritative articles on virtually any subject.
We have 16,461 articles at different stages of development,
of which 165 are expert-approved.
But see: Citizendium turns five, but the Wikipedia fork is
dead in the water, Oct 27 2011 and Why Wikipedia wins
What is an encyclopedia for?
Authority and dependability?
Or a quick source of “facts”?
But is it OR any more?
Is Britannica Going Wiki?
Encyclopaedia Britannica recently introduced some new
features to Britannica Online that make it easy for our
readers to suggest edits, revisions, updates, amplifications,
and corrections to our articles and to submit their
handiwork to our editors for consideration.
Ha! User-generated content, you say. Well, yes. But a wiki?
No. Because the operative word in the paragraph above is
suggest. Britannica users don’t have the ability or authority
to publish the edits they propose; only Britannica editors
can do that, and that’s the way it will stay.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009