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 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.
Encyclopedia.com Offers more than 50,000 articles from The Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (Sixth 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.
Encarta 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.
Fact Monster Search 57,000 articles from the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Simply enter your search term and start reading!
Wikipedia Find what you're looking for among more than 700,000 articles that are edited by hundreds of thousands of visitors on a daily basis. Anyone can contribute to Wikipedia by clicking on the edit tab in an article.
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.
Artcyclopedia 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: