Evaluation of Encyclopaedias
A good and useful collection of general and special encyclopaedias form the backbone for the reference work in any library. The strong collection of general and special encyclopaedias in English and other languages ensure efficient reference service in a library. In this section, we will discuss various check points which can help in the selection and assessing the value of encyclopaedias before the acquisition for the library.
It is a very expensive venture to produce an authoritative set of encyclopaedia as it involves overall planning, engaging subject experts to write articles, competent indexers to provide layout artists, exhaustive index, and photographers for providing apt illustrations, accurate printing, efficient editorial and proof reading, adequate advertising through reviews in journals catalogues and announcement leaflets to booksellers, distributors, librarians etc. All these cannot be done cheaply. Reputed publishers recognise this fact by their experience in the field of publishing encyclopaedias and incur considerable expenditure to produce an authoritative work so as to earn the profit in turn. The prices of the authoritative sets of encyclopaedia are quite high, as the publishers have to meet with the expenses of high cost of production. Therefore the librarians have to make careful selection of the encyclopaedia and judicious expenditure depending upon the avail-ability of funds and space. Again, the librarian has also to consider the needs of the reader. They must be used intelligently to obtain the maximum benefit. It is not possible to make a perfect and complete encyclopaedia, as it is difficult to include all the existing information: Hence, the librarian should assess their value and find out their merits and demerits before acquiring them.
The main checkpoints for evaluating and analysing encyclopaedias are :
b) Scope and purpose
h) Special features