I found this Motherboard article about the advent of encyclopedias on cd-roms in my RSS feed last week and instantly I was transported back to library school nearly 30 years ago.
Picture it. Fall of 1988 and I’m one of the youngest students in the first term “reference sources” class at SLIS, the School of Library and Information Science at then University of Western Ontario. The assignment was a short presentation on a reference source to the class and I selected one of those newfangled encyclopedias on cd-rom. I think it was a Grolier.
I grew up with encyclopedias at home. My parents splurged and purchased not only the regular Encyclopedia Britannica but also the junior set. It had a red faux leather binding if I’m not mistaken.
I wrote at least one high school essay based solely on an Britannica article and still have great respect for them today. Back in 1988, I was stoked about this amazing innovation called….. hyperlinks. I remember showing off how the hyperlinks let you bounce from one encyclopedia entry to a related one with just one click. This was the future. (side note: that was also the first time I’d ever used a mouse with a computer and I was pretty spastic). I don’t recall the class reaction to my presentation but clearly, I was a visionary.