Goodbye Encyclopedias

I scored many an ‘A’ on school reports in elementary school thanks to my family’s two sets of encyclopedias. The following tidbit comes today my local Freecycle mailing list where people give personal possessions away for free.

[Our university library] has withdrawn several sets of encyclopedias. We’ve tried selling them in the [univeristy's] used bookshop and giving them away but no one seems to want old encyclopedias anymore, even for free. We did find homes for 2 sets in the art department but still have the following to re-home:

  • 3 boxes of Colliers from 1990
  • 2 boxes of Academic American from the 90s (with colored pictures)
  • 3 boxes of Encyclopedia Americana from 1995
  • 13 Encyclopedia Britannica from 1957 (incomplete set)

Please consider any or all for your art projects, or any other way you can use these books; they will be recycled this summer.

Ouch! Encyclopedias have been relegated to the status of magazines for cut-and-paste craft projects. I admit, when my daughter has a question, and we don’t have a book dedicated to the subject, we turn to the Internet. In our home, we’re teaching the computer as a tool, not a game machine.


7 Responses to “Goodbye Encyclopedias”

  1. Danielle says:

    It’s sad. I remember reaching for the encyclopedia any number of times during my childhood. It’s sad that they don’t have anyone that will take them now.
    That being said, I routinely use the internet for that sort of information now. My husband rejoices in finding images of body parts and skeletons when my son is asking questions. I’m fairly sure that he is the only 4 year old that can tell you what the uvula is. :)

    March 29th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

  2. Elizabeth W. says:

    The internet is a minefield for kids so my son won’t get unfettered internet access for a long time to come. He gets tons of use out of the encyclopedia we got from our local freecycle. He also likes to browse it at bedtime just for fun to look at new and interesting things. If the encyclopedia doesn’t have the thing he is looking for, or if it isn’t thorough enough for him, i’ll help him look for stuff on the internet, but it’s a great first line of defense for learning in our house. I think any house with elementary schoolers in it should have a set.

    March 29th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

  3. Angelique says:

    I love encyclopedias, but as a parent, the internet is SO AWESOME for all the “but-why-mommy”s that I hear throughout the day. One quick search and I can answer his every question about the dwarf planets, plus show him pictures, videos and scientists AND get a coloring page.

    And Danielle, my 4 year old also tells me all about his uvula. Our kids should talk…;)

    March 31st, 2010 at 9:27 am

  4. Maura says:

    Actually, encyclopedias are very much alive. Internet information can be overwhelming and often incorrect or biased. I am a librarian and students and teachers are always happier to find information that is easy to use. I think the poster might be having trouble finding a home for these books because they are OUT OF DATE. We use print encyclopedias as well as online encyclopedias and databases as a first resource.

    March 31st, 2010 at 3:38 pm

  5. AJ says:

    I could be convinced to buy an encyclopedia, but the catch would be to find one that isn’t prohibitively expensive. The first I looked up, Compton’s, is a mere $600 while the regular Britannica is $1,340. Hmm, maybe I’ll stick with Freecycle.

    On another note, the parent I bought a student dictionary for mentioned she normally uses to look up words… but that process won’t teach alphabetization, among other things.

    March 31st, 2010 at 3:45 pm

  6. ararechan says:

    aj, now you’ve got me wondering what my parents did with out encyclopedia set we had as kids at home!! I found it great fun to read about so many things in that big set of books as a kid… And even remember my first report I had to write (about the renaissance.)

    I actually kind of wince whenever I see wikipedia referenced in *medical* discussions and talks…

    April 4th, 2010 at 12:25 am

  7. Dallas says:

    I remember getting an encyclopedia for Christmas, when I was about 8 or so. I was SO happy. I then proceeded to read the entire set, from A-Z. (Yes, I was a nerdly little child. It served me well!)

    My mother still has that same set, in her garage, and I think I’ll probably ask her for it, since I have a “thing” for the printed page and information in books! (I love the internet too, but I hope to pass on a love of books to my nearly-3-year-old).

    April 4th, 2010 at 3:52 pm