Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Surveying the 1995 Encyclopedias on Disc: Encarta '95

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Surveying the 1995 Encyclopedias on Disc: Encarta '95

Article excerpt

Microsoft Corporation, 800/228-6270 (USA), 800/563-9048 (Canada), Windows, Macintosh, $99.95

Encarta is Chautauqua served up on a 12-centimeter silver platter, with elements of the circus, of the symphony, and some silliness too. And sagacity, that slick mixture of shrewdness and practical savvy that makes an 80-year-old salt wise and worth listening to, instead of just old. It is difficult to pick a "best" encyclopedia. What is good for a grad school student might only confound a pupil in public school. One might be better--more scholarly--but not for the eight-year-old who only uses it as a foot stool or a picture book. But given that, and given the rainbow of information available in today's electronic encyclopedias, let's not sit on the fence--Encarta deserves first place for everything it is, rather than for the few things it isn't, such as overtly scholarly. Others stand out particularly for their texts, but Encarta excels overall, especially for clarity and ease of use and for the slick effectiveness of its multimedia aspects and overall craftsmanship.

When Microsoft decided to enter the encyclopedia market, most of the best known works were already there or well on their way to CD-ROM format. …

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