A 70-year-old Wikipedian (1) Meet the Encyclopedia

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This is an English translation of my book entitled “A 70-year-old Wikipedian talks about the charm of libraries“. The text of the original book is in Japanese, so I will be translating it into English bit by bit. Chapter 1, The Road to Wikipedia.

Meet the Encyclopedia (Chapter 1-1)

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, so my story starts with an encyclopedia. When I was a child, there was a Japanese encyclopedia in my brother’s room. My father was not a scientist, but he liked to read books and magazines. My house was full of books, magazines and newspapers. That is one of the reasons why I became a librarian.

I studied German literature at university, but I couldn’t get a job, so after graduating I went to library school. The professors all studied library science in the USA, so the curriculum was all American. I learnt about encyclopedia as one of the reference books. My teacher told us that “an encyclopedia is a barometer of all the knowledge of the age in which it was created”. I was deeply moved by these words.

Brockhaus Encycropedia, 14th ed. (-jha-, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

For my graduation thesis I chose the Brockhaus, a German encyclopedia. Its first edition was published at the beginning of the 19th century and the 17th edition was published in the middle of the 20th century. So I extracted the word “library” from each edition and studied the evolution of its content. I then traced the image of the “library” in the minds of Germans. As a result, I was able to see the library through the encyclopedia and the encyclopedia through the library.

So I was familiar with the encyclopedia, but after graduation I did not get a job to edit encyclopedia. In those days, the encyclopedias were written by experts, and ordinary people just read them.

Original Book

門倉百合子『70歳のウィキペディアン:図書館の魅力を語る』東京:郵研社、2023年 (A 70-year-old Wikipedian talks about the charm of libraries / by Yuriko Kadokura. Tokyo: Yukensha, 2023)

About this book

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