Where are the encyclopedias? I asked the librarian recently.
She took me to a shelf that included dictionaries and other reference materials. But no “Encyclopedia Brittanica,” no “World Book” or others I remembered from the past when our children were writing a term paper, or we were just curious about something.
And then I realized encyclopedias are unnecessary today because we can simply “Google” it.
I recall days past when we sat at our dining room table and a salesperson expounded the value of having “The World Book,” a highly viewed reference book, in our own home, as opposed to going to the local library, when our children were working on a term paper. Of course, we considered the family budget and whether we could afford to purchase such a wonderful source of wisdom and knowledge.
In 1978, “World Book” was purchased by Scott Fetzer Company. That year, the company had a sales force of 60,000 and vastly outsold “Encyclopedia Britannica.”
We felt we could trust “The Encyclopedia Brittanica” and the “World Book.”
This was all before the internet, of course, before Google and Yahoo and all the information available to us today at the touch of our fingers on a cellphone or laptop computer.
In 2013, the president of “Encyclopedia Britannica” announced that after 244 years, the encyclopedia would cease print production and all future editions would be entirely digital.
Today, donated encyclopedias typically end up at Goodwill.
Can Google and Yahoo and other computer sites be trusted in the same way we trusted the encyclopedias?
“We can trust Google.” has become a standard response.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick.
While the internet is a valuable source of information, caution should be taken.
“If it’s on the internet, it must be true.”
Not so fast!
Anyone can create a website and put information on the internet, whether it’s true or not.
Information may be posted to entertain, rather than to teach.
Perhaps our standard response to unanswered questions and information on the internet should simply be, “Consider the source.”
Check it out!
• Carole Ledbetter of Ottawa is the author of two books, “Carole’s Columns” and “Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons,” and is a speaker consultant for Stonecroft Ministries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.