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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Encyclopedia Update, 2011
The online encyclopedias available from Britannica, Grolier, and World Book offer an array of content and features, and we dug into each to put together the following summaries. The publishers supplied information about changes since our last “Encyclopedia Update,” in September 2010. Some online features and tools—an atlas, a time line, current news, web links, bibliographic citations in several formats, print and e-mail functions—are standard. The focus here is on the key things that differentiate each product.
The reference section of Booklist has a long tradition of reviewing encyclopedias, going all the way back to a 1930 review of World Book. The annual roundup of encyclopedias started 1984 with the goal “to examine each set for additions and/or deletions since its last edition reviewed, to comment on its success and/or failure to maintain acceptable levels of currentness, and to report significant shifts in its purpose, style, or overall quality.” This is still generally true, but a look back at my first “Encyclopedia Update” which appeared in September 15, 1997 issue of Booklist, shows how radically the materials we have to work with have changed. In 1997, we reviewed seven print encyclopedias: Academic American, Collier’s, Compton’s, Encyclopedia Americana, The New Book of Knowledge, New Encyclopaedia Britannica, and World Book. Our reviews of electronic encyclopedias appeared in the November that year and dealt only with CD-ROMs. CD-ROM is long gone, and this year our coverage of print encyclopedias has been relegated to a sidebar.
Our methods for putting together the annual “Encyclopedia Update” have changed as well. It used to involve a subcommittee of the Reference Books Bulletin Editorial Board and a cumbersome process of surveying the publishers, assigning each enyclopedia to a different reviewer, then having all the reviewers comment on the reviews before they went were edited. The reviews were long—very long. Over the years I started to question whether Booklist’s busy readers really needed reviews that went into so much detail. I also started to see that the update was starting to look and sound the same year after year. Though it’s nice to know what articles have been added or updated, there isn’t much we can say about those articles that will influence your decision about what to buy. The changes most people care about are happening online, and are related more to functionality than to content.
This is my last “Encyclopedia Update,” since by the time you read this I will have retired. Booklist has provided a valuable service to the profession with its encyclopedia coverage over the years, and though that coverage will no doubt continue, it may require a very different approach.
All the following sites were last accessed on August 2, 2011. For pricing options, contact the publishers.
Britannica Online. Contact: 800-621-3900; http://info.eb.com.
Britannica Online has three main products: Britannica Online School Edition (K–12), Britannica Online Public Library Edition (preschool to adult), and Britannica Online Academic Edition (college and university).
Britannica Online School Edition.
Britannica Online School Edition is one product with three reading levels—Elementary School, Middle School, and High School—all accessible from the home page. The three levels can be searched together (with results sorted by level) or separately.
Britannica Online Public Library Edition.
Britannica Online Public Library Edition offers two reading levels: Britannica Kids, for elementary and middle school, and Britannica Online Reference Center, for high school and up.
Britannica Online Academic Edition
Britannica Online Academic Edition has been redesigned with a new interface; new search capabilities; new article pages; new My Britannica Workspace for saving content from Britannica, outside sources, and original work; and a Suggest Edit feature.
Grolier Online. Contact: 800-387-1437.
The content of Grolier Online is driven from eight distinct databases. New this year are interfaces for different grade levels as well as for public libraries. Grolier Online is designed to work without the need for plug-ins, although libraries have the option to choose a “multimedia rich” version that does require plug-ins. Subscribers can purchase any combination of the eight databases,
World Book Web. Contact: 800-975-3250; firstname.lastname@example.org.
World Book Web
comprises three product lines—School and Library Edition, Public Library Edition, and World Book Classroom—as well as specialty and foreign-language sites (World Book Discover, with differentiated instruction for middle- and high-schoolers; Encyclopédie découverte and Enciclopedia estudiantil hallazgos for elementary-school students; and Enciclopedia hispánica saber for older students and adults).
School and Library Edition
Sites in the School and Library Edition are World Book Kids (grades K–3), World Book Student (grades 4–8), and World Book Advanced (high school and up).
Public Library Edition
Sites in the Public Library Edition are World Book Online for Kids (K–3), World Book Online Info Finder (grades 4–8), and World Book Online Reference Center (high-school and up). All are similar to the three sites in the School and Library Edition (above) but with different designs for the home pages.
World Book Classroom
The World Book Classroom line of products includes Dramatic Learning, Early World of Learning, and World Book Science Power, World Book Social Studies Power, and World Book Activity Corner.
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