Fun Fact: Encyclopedias

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Does anyone remember encyclopedias? Do they still exist? If so, does anybody use them?

Encyclopedias are a set of about 20ish, identical-looking, hardcover books. Each letter of the alphabet has its own volume, and the letters that don’t have many entries are grouped into one book. So, for example, topics beginning with XYZ might take up a volume.

Basically, encyclopedias were what Google and especially Wikipedia are now. If you needed to do research, you used an encyclopedia. If you wanted to know more about a particular subject, you used the encyclopedia. As you can imagine, these were a pain to use because you had to carry around several volumes, usually, in your school bag and it was all so clunky. And unlike Wikipedia, they didn’t cover as many topics.

Every year or two, the encyclopedias were replaced by a new set, which were edited to include more topics, change any sort of recorded stats, basically update information. I don’t know what people did with their old encyclopedias. My own family didn’t have them, so I don’t know. I don’t think there were many recycling programs back then (the 70s). Maybe they were donated? Ha! We could probably Google it to find out!


Did you have and/or use encyclopedias when you were growing up?

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I hold an MFA in poetry from The Ohio State University. I'm a fiction writer, blogger, wife, pet mom, and Ohio State Buckeye!

9 thoughts on “Fun Fact: Encyclopedias

  1. And weren’t there door to door encyclopedia salespeople? Not that I remember any actually coming to my house, but I seem to recall that was a thing. And then Microsoft Encarta came along, although I don’t think it lasted for very long.

  2. Yes, I remember my parents had an encyclopedia, but it was like ten years old when I used it in the mid-1990s. Then my parents got Encarta too and then Encyclopedia Britannica on CD-ROM. I didn’t get Internet access till 2002, so I was a bit late with that f or somoene of my generation.

    1. From what I can remember about using encyclopedias is that the information always seemed outdated, and it’s possible that it was because I don’t know how often they were replaced. Thank you for sharing!

        1. I guess we hang onto things that, even if we no longer have a use for them, still have sentimental value. Thanks about 321!

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