Do you prefer to click a mouse or reach for the shelf?
Online resources have the potential to replace bulky reference books. The encyclopedia, a benevolent reference work that covers all branches of knowledge, or one branch of knowledge in an exhaustive manner, has found a home in cyberspace.
Online encyclopedias can complement or supplement the printed reference collection. Here is a roundup of some of the best encyclopedias on the Internet:
Britannica.com includes a portion of the contents of the venerable print edition. You can also simultaneously search for reviews of the 125,000 hand-picked reference sites, related books and current articles from magazines such as Discover, The Economist and Newsweek.
This free encyclopedia from Microsoft contains 17,000 articles and more than 2,200 photos, illustrations, maps, charts and tables. You can also access the World Atlas and the World English Dictionary, a "talking dictionary" replete with audio files.
Offers more than 50,000 articles from The Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (Third Edition). Encyclopedia.com offers 170,000 links, including cross-referenced articles and other sites. You can also access articles and images from the Electric Library for a fee.
Anyone across the globe can add content to this free reference Web site. With an infinite number of contributors, Wikipedia remains very much up-to-date. Articles are created or updated within minutes or hours of an event.
Don't overlook "subject encyclopedias" that are devoted to a field or a discipline. Here are a few examples:
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Search the site for a philosopher or browse the timeline of Western Philosophy. You can also find entries for specific beliefs, such as Confucianism and Rationalism.
Search the database of more than 7,500 artists. You'll find a list of articles, online exhibits and image galleries for each artist. You can also browse the site by movement, medium or subject.
To find more online encyclopedias, visit the following sites: