Encyclopedia Go Experiences
Kalela Williams, Founder
Why did I start Encyclopedia Go? Because I was the nerdy kid who used to read World Book Encyclopedias for fun. I would pull one of those heavy books from the crowded shelf in our living room, flip to a random page, and settle onto our cushy old sofa while leaping into a whole new universe.
Being a geeky black girl in the ‘80s and ‘90s wasn’t for the faint of heart. So I didn't exactly embrace my brainy side at school. We all try to fit in as kids and as teens, but curiosity makes you stand out like a blue-footed booby (a subtropical bird of the genus Sula, easily identified by its electric-bright legs).
Fast forward a couple-few decades, to a career as a professional nerd of sorts: directing humanities and civic engagement programs for universities and libraries. I've been at it for more than twelve years. It's incredibly meaningful work, but it's always fun to do your own thing, right?
That’s why I started Encyclopedia Go as a Meetup group in 2018. I planned curator-led tours of museums, hosted lectures in bars, and added other adventures. Then I kicked off two other projects. My social media site, Black History Maven drops knowledge—and sometimes the mic. And I began offering history tours in my home city, Philadelphia, and made plans to start my own summer tour company in 2020.
That's not going to happen. But, through Encyclopedia Go Experiences, I hope to gather all of these pieces together. The original Meetup group is back; but now, anyone and everyone is welcome to tap into the insight of professors and other experts. Through book explorations, I hope to bring people together through books that matter. And one day I’ll return to offering tours.
I'd like to recreate that feeling you can only capture when you discover something new. And I want it to be accessible to all, with ticketed events covering the cost of free access for those who need it, as well as special programs for students.
In short, I hope to spark a culture of continual exploration. For everyone.
That weird girl who read World Book encyclopedias for fun would be over the moon—or really, moons, since there are approximately 200 celestial bodies orbiting the planets in our solar system. But who's counting? (Astronomers.)