rAPPido Review: Encyclopedia Britannica

Encyclopedia Britannica

Price: Free (lite version) $1.99/month for full access

Yes, I’ll admit it. My library world slows down a little during this last week of exams, which gives me the opportunity to troll the app store. Checking out what’s new in the Features section, I came across this app, released in November by the folks at the prestigious (some would say crusty) Britannica people.

Now. If you have never seen their full online Encyclopedia, you have not witnessed the transformation of this reference institution from voluminous, cumbersome tomes to easily accessed information, including hyperlinks, images and media as well as the ability to bookmark your preferences ready made citations as well as what we like to call in library speak, Xrefs (which is now commonly known as related articles).

I love online Encyclopedias, I won’t lie. So yes, I jumped at thew chance to download my very own Britannica app for free!

Here is the search interface. Simple. Elegant. Easy to use.

Now be warned:  the free version doesn’t give you access to all content, as witnessed by the the first article I searched for:

Oh. And on the subject of the deceased North Korean Dictator, I happened to read this article in the New Republic listing his greatest crimes. I am suitably appalled at my own ignorance. The only thing I knew about him was that he was building his army along with a cache of nuclear weapons. Didn’t make the connection (though I should have) that it was on the backs of his starving people.

However, I digress.

As you can see, we only get 100 out of a 1024 word article. We are cordially invited to subscribe however.

But the lovely peeps at britannica has made it easy for us frugal educators, and posted a link to all of their full-length, free articles:

These include full length articles on many scientists, countries such as Canada, and even the whopping World War II which clocks in at 137 pages (don’t worry- they give table of contents with hyperlinks).

Here is the article on the atom:

If you click on the image, it gets bigger and gives you a caption.

The link map option at the top right hand corner is extremely cool. A replacement for the old school “related articles” hyperlink, the Britannic app gives it to you as a visual map:

Articles connect to the Atom article

Click on any of the icons and the map will expand to include all related articles to that article. To actually view an article in the link map, you simply press and hold.

All in all, the Encyclopedia Britannica is intuitive to use, provides easily understandable and accessible information. With the free articles, they also offer the possibility of saving for offline viewing, the ability to star an article as well as the option to change the font size. The help pages are actually helpful. The only thing I can’t find and (I am very sad about it) is the already configured MLA and ALA citations they provide in their online version. Hopefully this will be added soon.

Oooh. And in honour of the newest member of the Traf community, they also have an “On this Day” page on the app, where you can browse the people born on this day from the 16th century on as well as peruse the events that happened on this day in history. It turns, out that little Sophia shares a birthday with Billy Bragg!

Here is Mr. Bragg with his love song, The Milkman of Human Kindness:

Happy Tuesday and remember to always leave an extra pint.


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