An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia is a
Encyclopedias have existed for around 2,000 years and have evolved considerably since that time as to language (written in a major international or a vernacular language), size (few or many volumes), intent (presentation of a global or a limited range of knowledge), cultural perceptions (authoritative, ideological, didactic, utilitarian), authorship (qualifications, style), readership (education level, background, interests, capabilities), and the technologies available for their production and distribution (hand-written manuscripts, small or large print runs, internet production). As a valued source of reliable information compiled by experts, printed versions found a prominent place in libraries, schools and other educational institutions.
The appearance of digital and open-source versions in the 20th century has vastly expanded the accessibility, authorship, readership, and variety of encyclopedia entries and called into question the idea of what an encyclopedia is and the relevance of applying to such dynamic productions the traditional criteria for assembling and evaluating print encyclopedias.
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encyclopedia comes from the
Copyists of Latin manuscripts took this phrase to be a single Greek word, enkyklopaidia, with the same meaning, and this spurious Greek word became the
The word encyclopaedia was first used as a