The demise of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is an obvious indicator of another change of eras that affects every generation.
I was born in 1945, so we are of an age, and so many of the items in the article were nostalgic.
No television? How did we live?
We had a set in a beautiful mahogany bookcase in the living room.
Both my parents were educators, so the expense did not deter them from obtaining that day’s version of a home library.
My well-educated parents never answered a question about history, geography or biology. They would just point to the Britannica.
They believed that the mark of an educated person is not what he knows but that he knows how to find what he does not know.
Today Google is the search engine of choice. Even if you misspell the entry, you will probably be directed to the proper answer.
I don’t know how much of that information is absorbed. I am reminded of the bumper sticker “It’s the information age and nobody knows anything.”
When my mother died in 1998, my brother donated our Britannica set to somebody. We had stopped getting the annual Yearbook update some time back, so it was a bit dated, but the information on Galileo, Leonardo or Robert E. Lee was still accurate.
I have no doubt that our set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was a powerful impetus to all three of us kids earning multiple college degrees.
Research and the love of knowledge started early and has not stopped. This past fall, at age 66, I took the N.C. State Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardner Program, a whole new vocabulary and new interests in the world around us and what we eat.
Alas, poor Britannica, I knew you well.
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