Special or Subject Encyclopaedias
There used to be a limited number of subject encyclopaedias in 19th century, but now, there is encyclopaedias for almost every subject. Modern subject encyclopaedias first became avail-able in philosophy and religion. Rendolf Eisler published his Worterbuch der Philosophischen Segriffe in 1889 and Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics came out in 1908-27. As general encyclopaedias have to cover all the subjects, they are dealt with in wide perspective and minute details are not covered; whereas subject encyclopaedias aim to serve the subject specialists and cover all sub-topics elaborately.
In past, subject encyclopaedias used to be multi-volume sets in broad subjects namely science and technology, social sciences etc. but now, encyclopaedias are published for each discipline and are restricted to one or to volume sets which are handy to use. They are excellent ready reference aids for the specialists who want to trace information about a specific subject. They are cost-effective as the librarian of the special libraries has a choice to acquire only those encyclopaedias needed by the readers instead of procuring costly multi-volume sets which occupy lots of space.
It is common for any reference librarian or the reader to turn to a general encyclopaedia for the information but in order to get in depth information on any subject, it is better to refer to subject encyclopaedias. A handbook is a working tool or method which gives facts and data to assist the user with the presupposition that he has some knowledge of the subject whereas subject encyclopaedia is a source of background information in detail and gives articles to the readers about the subject by making it elaborate.
It helps the reader to self-educate himself thoroughly on the subject. It is impossible to cover the countless subject encyclopaedias available in various. subjects. A few important examples of special encyclopaedias available in big university and special libraries are listed here.