Encyclopaedia – book form

I love the internet. It is oh so brilliant when you want information. I love it for helping me identify plants, birds, butterflies and so on. It is just great that you can look up just about anything and be just about certain of finding what you want. These days I’d hate to be without it.


Yes, there is a but! Some might not regard it as a serious drawback but I see paper books as having an advantage. A web encyclopaedia, like the one we all use (Wikipedia) may work hard at making links from one area to another but by and large the links are ignored. People using on line encyclopaedia really have to know what they are looking for. They don’t provide the page turning opportunity of a real book. The on-liners are a bit like Sat-nav. They get you efficiently to a destination but don’t offer the opportunity to be truly inspired by the journey.

I remain eternally grateful to parents and grandparents because one year they provided for me the Odhams Young People’s Encyclopaedia.


This set was published in 1958 and I reckon it was 1958 when I was given them. They probably had coloured dust jackets, but if so, I don’t remember them. Even without them, they are quite a tight fit in the purpose made stand. If dust covers existed they are bound to have got damaged.

The great thing with a book is that you can browse, or just read from cover to cover, as well as look things up alphabetically. I was able to absorb information about things I may not have been specifically interested in. How did I learn about woodwind instruments? Why, from the encyclopaedia of course.


And heraldry? Yes, the encyclopaedia again.


Of course, the books have plenty of text but line drawings, like those musical instruments are found on just about every page. There are plenty of black and white photos and a goodly sprinkling of colour plates.

It was a great gift in 1958 – and still appreciated today.

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