Jyväskylä University Library - at the Heart of Campus

Encyclopaedia Britannica : Change: It's Okay. Really.

E-resource of the Month – April 2012

In mid-March 2012, the publisher of the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced they would go all-digital and discontinue the printed edition of the world renowned encyclopedia.

The feedback they received was enormous. People reacted very emotionally, and many told about personal experiences they had of the 32-volume giant. One even described the smell of the older bindings. Even though the decision to go all-digital aroused so much emotion, many understood the necessity of it.

The first e-version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in 1989 on a CD-ROM. The resource became available on the internet in 1994. It is now used by 100 million people around the world.

Compared to the printed edition, the digital Britannica is more flexible and constantly evolving. Revisions and updates are publishable online within minutes. The digital version also offers features such as varied supplemental materials, full-text searching and hypertext linking.

The Britannica Online is in fact much more than just an encyclopedia. It also includes the Merriam Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus, a timeline covering various subjects, the World Atlas, a Compare Countries–tool etc. Some of these features are a good help for research, some are just pure entertaining.

Different features of the site are demonstrated on online help videos. The videos last from one to two minutes, and are an extremely good help for those of us who don’t always care to read instructions so thouroughly.

The site’s blog is also worth having a look at. It’s an easy way to get a deeper insight into different subjects. In mid-March the administration and editors of EB contributed to the blog, probably preparing for reactions to the announcement of ending the print edition.

The editors, knowing their loyal readers, tried to calm them down with a blog post titled “Change: It’s Okay. Really."

The digital Encyclopaedia Britannica can be found in the Library’s Nelli-portal.

And by the way, we also have the print version – on the  second floor, shelf number 249.

Ask more: Ulla Pesola

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