|MARCH 16, 2012 --
Encyclopedia Britannica has announced that they are done printing their 32 volume encyclopedia and have chosen to go solely with their virtual edition.
For generations we’ve grown up with volumes of encyclopedias, and the Britannica brand was often viewed as the top of the line. Schools required you to do research in them, parents told you to look things up in them, and you could explore the world on a rainy day just by picking up a volume.
For a number of years, my kids have been telling me to Goggle things rather than use encyclopedias, phone books and other reference materials. While I have learned to use and appreciate much of the electronic world, this decision by Encyclopedia Britannica reminds us all of just how much the world is changing.
Books were prized objects to the wealthy for centuries, and then with the advent of the printing press, they became companions, teachers and entertainment for the average person. Today, in a relevantly short time, websites and e-books are changing the world.
I can see that my grandchildren will grow up checking things out online rather than thumbing through reference books. While the printed word isn’t likely to become obsolete, the word printed on paper may become increasingly rare as the electronic word becomes cheaper, faster and more accurate and thorough.
There are advantages for people to have their reference materials updated daily instead of only when you choose to invest in a new edition. Yet I’m still going to miss holding that heavy book. However, I have a hunch that most of the young people are not going to be the least bit nostalgic for that row of thick volumes.
The world is really changing at a speed that still surprises most of us. We are used to a world where there is a new model at least every year of just about anything we can buy. Many have chosen to learn how to bank online, order items online and we’ve been told for several years that this day was coming.
Today is here and the world has once again changed, at least as far as encyclopedias are concerned.
The Grange has been working to prepare for a different world, and I’m sure that our efforts will bring us new opportunities. As Grange members we’ll adapt once again just as we’ve done countless times in the past.
Junior Grange members and our younger Grange members are often demanding that we move quicker in adopting on line tools and strategies. While our organization does remember that not everyone adopts new technology when it is new, we are adding these new tools as quickly as possible.
Yes the world is really changing, but at least I know that people are still the same, even if they can only access the Encyclopedia Britannica online.