VARIOUS TYPES OF ENCYCLOPAEDIAS
In the previous section, we have surveyed the genesis and development of encyclopaedia as one of the most popular reference sources. Every library whether small or big, has a few encyclopaedias in its reference collection on which the librarian usually depends to answer the queries received from the readers. Twentieth century has seen a considerable growth in number and kind of encyclopaedia due to sudden proliferation of knowledge in all fields. In this section, we will acquaint you with various types of encyclopaedias. In order to organise the collection in the reference section efficiently, they are categorised into two main categories, namely, general and special or subject encyclopaedias according to the scope, purpose and coverage.
The differonce in scope and coverage of general and special encyclopaedia is evident. General encyclopaedia contains a collection of articles giving essential information about all the branches of knowledge. They are arranged either in
alphabetical or classified order by subjects or names.
They are intended for the general readers. It is a common practice to bring out supplements to encyclopaedias to keep them up-to-date but revised editions are published occasionally. It is rather a huge and highly expensive task to produce an
authoritative general encyclopaedia. In contrast to this category, special or subject encyclopaedia is a collection of articles limited to a specific field of area. They are generally arranged alphabetically by subject and names. They are designed to satisfy the needs of the specialists interested in a particular subject. They are published in abundance in almost all the subject areas due to expansion of literature in every field and increasing demand from the users. The cost of publishing is relatively less due to its limited scope and coverage.
The encyclopaedias can be further classified by using any one of the following characteristic :
i) Size or volume, i.e., one or two volume set or multi-volume set.
ii) User's age, i.e., adult, junior, children.
iii) Area covered, i.e., universal or regional/national.
iv) According to language.