They can't even GIVE away old encylopedia's anymore - they don't bring a bid at the auction and they won't even take them as a donation at the Book Sales. But I love them.
Change has been so dramatic over this past century, it's hard to even get your head around it. I sit at a computer with the world at my fingertips - world events, the dictionary & wikipedia, educational tutorials, friends who I feel close to, even though I have never shared a spoken conversation with. Incredible. Amazing. Awesome & Exciting. I love it.
But just as much, I love to page through my old encyclopedias and World Books, thinking about the little hands that held them so many years ago and the great excitement they felt at having the world at their fingertips.
I've got a number of them - picked up for 50 cents a set. They're filled with remarkably interesting material, so refreshingly simply explained that they're a pleasure to read. Inventions that were cutting edge, countries that were just entering the industrial age or were so very different than they are today. Fascinating indeed. I especially enjoy the poetry, stories and beautifully detailed illustrations of classics like Alice in Wonderland.
My favourite is a 1911 BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE set, pre-printed from 1899. It's well used and well loved - so tattered and worn that it's amazing that anyone even saved them. It was surely a prized possesion for the Vincent children - their names so carefully enscribed with pencil on the inside cover. I picture them, calling out to each other ... 'Come see this!' or ' Did you know...' - very much like we do today when we find something interesting on the internet.
I doubt very much that a hundred years from now, someone will hold an old laptop or Blackberry or iphone and give even a passing thought to the information that it held. If it survives a landfill site, it will just be a junk piece of plastic with a blank screen. What we use now will be of even less value than my precious old books. They won't be curling up with a blanket & cup of tea, like I am now - saying 'Look at how THIS has changed - oh my goodness - look how THAT has changed.' They hold just as much interest and awe for me as they did for the Vincent children in 1911.