LIB 640 Information Sources and Services
From tomes to technology
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 encyclopedia comes from the Classical
Greek “ἐνκύκλιos παιδεία” (transliterated
“enkyklios paideia”), literally, a “[well-]rounded
education,” meaning “general knowledge.”
The word encyclopaedia was first used as a noun by
the Croatian encyclopedist Pavao Skalić in the title of
his book, Encyclopaedia seu orbis disciplinarum tam
sacrarum quam prophanarum epistemon
(Encyclopaedia, or Knowledge of the
World of Disciplines, Basel, 1559).
From “Encyclopedia” on Wikipedia
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
John Harris - Lexicon
Technicum - 1708 second
A more famous
revision of Harris
Ephraim Chambers (c.1680-1740) Cyclopedia. First
A French “revision”
“Encyclopedia, or a
systematic dictionary of
the sciences, arts, and
crafts” was an
in France between 1751
and 1766, with later
revisions in 1772, 1777
and 1780 and numerous
foreign editions and
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
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
LoveToKnow Classic Encyclopedia.
Move to Chicago and continuous
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
Encyclopedism - Alphabetical Encyclopedias
Other Free Encyclopedias :: Science Encyclopedia :: The History of Ideas Vol 2
Britannica’s big change
Britannica 3 (AKA 15th ed.).
First publ. 1974
Propaedia: single volume systematic outline of human knowledge
Micropaedia: 10 vols., 102,000 entries, short articles
Macropaedia: 19 vols, 4,000+ articles, expansions of selected topics
How to explain the Propaedia? Well, I guess one way is to say that if an alien lands
on earth and asks you for a single book that summarizes human existence since the
beginning of time, give it the Propaedia! Written in outline form, it is the sum of all
knowledge, and where to find this knowledge in the Britannica! You probably won't
have much need for it, but you should at least look at it to appreciate its scholarship.
From print to electronic
In the early 1980s, Academic American Encyclopedia,
published by Grolier, went on-line [dial-up] through a
number of information services.
The first encyclopedia to be produced in a CD format
was also the Academic American (December 1985).
[Both of the above were text-only]
Compton's MultiMedia Encyclopedia was released in
CD format in 1989 and integrates sound, pictures,
animation, and text in what is termed multimedia CD-
A popular children’s encyclopedia
For almost 90 years, World Book has been
committed to publishing encyclopedias and other
reference products that meet the highest
standards of editorial excellence while keeping
pace with the technological developments that
define the computer age.
About World Book
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
Anyone can edit?
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written
collaboratively by many of its readers. It is a
special type of website, called a wiki, that makes
collaboration easy. Many people are constantly
improving Wikipedia, making thousands of
changes an hour, all of which are recorded on
article histories and recent changes.
Inappropriate changes are usually removed
quickly, and repeat offenders can be blocked
Learn more about the project
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
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!
No facts. No reality. No Spelcheck.
An Internets Tube for America!
7,120,489 articles in American
Stephen Colbert first used the the term Wikiality on the
Monday, July 31, 2006 edition of The Colbert Report news
program. Wikiality represents “A reality where, if enough
people agree with a notion, it becomes the truth.”
Wikiality is generally believed to be a portmanteau of the
words “Wikipedia” and “reality”.
One solution to Wikipedia
The world needs a more credible
free encyclopedia. Help create it.
We are an encyclopedia project, and more.
We are a different sort of Web 2.0 project:
We offer gentle expert oversight.
We use our real names, not pseudonyms.
We have added over 2,400 articles since Nov. 2006.
We aim at credibility and quality not just quantity.
What is an encyclopedia for?
Authority and dependability?
Or a quick source of “facts”?
But is it OR any more?
Encyclopaedia Britannica is about to
launch a new initiative that we’re very
enthusiastic about. The main thrust of this
initiative is to promote greater participation by both our
expert contributors and readers. Both groups will be
invited to play a larger role in expanding, improving, and
maintaining the information we publish on the Web under
the Encyclopaedia Britannica name as well as in sharing
content they create with other Britannica visitors.
More Participation and Collaboration from Experts and Readers
This entry was posted on Tuesday,
June 3rd, 2008 at 2:37 pm 21
Teaching the encyclopedia
Kentucky's Learning Goals and
Academic Expectations: AE 1.1
Students use reference tools such as
dictionaries, almanacs, encyclopedia
s, and computer reference programs
and research tools such as
interviews and surveys to find the
information they need to meet
specific demands, explore
interests, or solve specific problems.