When you think Encyclopedia most of us immediately envision the 24 volume sets in our elementary school library with articles on everything from Aak (Korean Court Music) to Zoroastrianism (Ancient Iran religion) but encyclopedias can also be on a single subject. The Indiana State Library has several hundred topical encyclopedias.
The earliest encyclopedic work known is the Naturalis Historia written around 77 AD, it covered 37 subjects like natural history, medicine, and architecture. The library has a 1938 translation of this work. The State Library’s oldest encyclopedia is Navigantium atque itinerantium bibliotheca, Or, A complete collection of voyages and travels: consisting of above six hundred of the most authentic writers. This second edition published in London between 1744 and 1748 is a compilation of articles about early sea voyages.
If reading about sea voyages aren’t your passion, then what about the arts? We have encyclopedias on everything from opera to rock, and from film noir to graphic art and comic book heroes. If you are more of an sports fan, then the Indiana University Basketball Encyclopedia or The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia might be for you.
For those interested in health and well-being we have a large selection of topics; aging, adolescence, stress, disability and rehabilitation or The Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health. If you need information about science, we have encyclopedias on anthropology, astronomy, oceanography, space travel and more.
We even have some of the more quirky titles; Lyons’ Encyclopedia of Valves, Durations: the Encyclopedia of How Long Things Take, Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Rope Work and we even have encyclopedias for librarians on buying encyclopedias like Purchasing an Encyclopedia: 12 Points to Consider.
Whatever your pastime or pursuit the Indiana State Library probably has an encyclopedia filled with information on the subject.
This blog post was written by Marcia Caudell, Reference and Government Services Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.