RIP to the research method of my childhood


The Encyclopedia Britannica is going out of print.

The company announced on Tuesday that it has decided to cease print operations and will be focusing on online platforms for it’s product.

While inevitable, it’s no less saddening.

For many of us out there, research in grade school, middle school and high school WAS simply the encyclopedia.  There wasn’t anything else.

I grew up in a really small town in central Kansas, and the encyclopedia was it.  There wasn’t any other way to do research on…well…anything.  We didn’t have a huge public library, but it did have encyclopedias.

That’s what we used.  There was no internet.  No Wikipedia.  No Google.

I have fond memories of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Not because it was better than others, and not because it was easier to use.

Rather, because it was shelved at eye-level  for a 5th grader looking to do research on this new thing called the Space Shuttle Program and the history of space flight.

It was magical.  It was amazing.  It was all I had. I spent hours reading and learning.

From there it went on to become a staple in all my research projects and papers.  I always came back to the Britannica. I guess I’m a creature of habit.

So, looking forward, it makes sense that the company would cease print operations.  Cost effective, environmentally friendly and so on.  Heck, if I ran the company, I’d do the same thing.

But a little bit of me is sad that future generations won’t have the same experience of sitting in a quite library, paging through a massive tome, looking for inspiration.

But, I’m confident they’ll find their inspiration in other places.  Maybe on the Britannica app.

And at least an iPad doesn’t hurt as much if you drop it on your toes.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print — Engadget.

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