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Friday, September 14, 2012

Do we really need reference books anymore?

Yesterday I talked about decluttering the book shelves. Today, I'm challenging you to take it one step further...

Reference Books

Now, if you are a book-lover like myself, you probably adore your reference books.  You may have your very favorite dictionary that you've had since high school (mine is about 3 inches thick and has full color glossy photos of all the US Presidents.  I think it ends with Reagan!); the Spanish-English dictionary you took to Argentina; your very favorite commentaries of the Bible; and your children's dictionaries.

But I have finally come to the realization that we never use them.  Never.

Because when my kids ask me how to pronounce a word, I go to HowJSay.

When they want to know how many babies a platypus has, I send them to Wikipedia.

 A question about the Bible? Try Blue Letter Bible

Google is our friend!

Just like the card catalog of yesteryear, the internet has made almost every reference book in the home obsolete. I would even argue that the need to alphabetize is almost archaic.

I'm expecting that the library time I used learning how to write out a card for the card catalog will now be used teaching my children how to verify if an online source is valid for personal use, academic use, and serious research.  And, of course, I do expect libraries to continue housing reference materials, since in a library books are not clutter.  

But in my house they are.

So, today I am saying goodbye to this stack of reference books.  I know there are others hiding here and there, and they will be going too.  And I'll bet no one notices.

Item #7: Stack of reference books. 

How about you? When was the last time you used your set of encyclopedias? The dictionary?  Is there any reference need you think cannot be fulfilled by a good internet connection?

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