In October 2001, the 20th and final volume of the Great Danish Encyclopedia (Den Store Danske Encyklopædi) was published by the publishing house Gyldendal. 11 months earlier, the digital encyclopedia Wikipedia started and a year later the Danish Wikipedia was online. As a consequence of the changed media-technical conditions, Gyldendal introduced the first digitized edition of the encyclopedia in 2004. First, the printed encyclopedia was converted to CD-ROM, and later to DVD-format, which, however, proved to be a transition media that quickly was overtaken and outcompeted because of the spread of the Internet. In 2009, five years after the release of the first digital edition, Gyldendal launched a free online encyclopedia titled “The Great Danish” (Den Store Danske). But the encyclopedia did not become the success that the publisher had hoped for and in August 2017, the publisher announced that the it would close. This promptly caused a public debate. The Minister of Culture intervened and Gyldendal promised to reconsider. The publisher has subsequently indicated that they will try to keep the project alive, but “The Great Danish” is no longer updated and now collects dust on the digital bookshelf waiting for the decision to become the nation's last national encyclopedia.

From a perspective of the history of knowledge, this presentation gives new insights into the problems of national encyclopedias, and thereby also national founded knowledge, alive and updated in the digital era where transnational encyclopedias such as Wikipedia dominates the encyclopedic landscape.