Where do you look up things?

Growing up, from baby to toddler to child, one day there comes this question: „Where do you look up things?” Because clearly at some point parents and uncles and aunts have outlived their usefulness. And vice versa, anyone who figured out how to pay for their mortgages and juggle family, jobs, hobbies and friends successfully, has not much room left to answer a constant stream of „Why?”, „What is this?”, „What if?”.

I grew up without the Internet. However, at the time we had books, and my father’s book shelves did nicely. We had a big medical book with two foldable maps of the body and its organs, which could explain all diseases and their remedies. We had one big book for civil law, where I looked up whether or not I am allowed to use my shortcut across our neighbour’s garden (law books are a disappointment, really). And we had a big Encyclopedia printed in sans-serif, with color pictures. I liked the sheer size of the thing, and the smooth white coating. Next to this modern Encyclopedia we had the 24 volume edition of Der Brockhaus. Not as fun, and far less pleasant to flip through, but a must have for any educated middle class family. And then there were hundreds of books on psychology, philosophy, self-improvement, self-help, cooking, and history.

Growing up, from child to young adult, one day there come these questions: „Who decides what goes into an Encyclopedia? What into a Newspaper?” Because clearly it can’t contain everything, and certainly not every viewpoint. And why are some people put into a more favourable light than others?