By Sarah Schrock
Are you looking to expand your mind, get your mind off politics, or avoid the depressing weather for a while? If you’re sticking it out through February and not flying off somewhere tropical, the library’s digital subscription services to online academic courses, digital media and databases might be just what you need.
We don’t live in a college town where there’s an interesting lecture on some obscure topic every night that you can attend for free, but via the library, you can listen in at Harvard, Yale, MIT or UW lectures and by proxy you can feel smart for an hour. The other night I listened to a visiting biblical scholar from Oxford speak about the ancient world and the history of Israel. I fell asleep, but at least I was in bed and not in a lecture hall like I did too often in college!
I have just started cracking the tip of the iceberg to these resources at the North Central Regional Library. You can take accredited college-level courses (for non-credit), learn a new language through Rosetta Stone, access tutorials via Lynda.com on digital arts, or find grant opportunities for a nonprofit project. The resources are extensive, it just takes a little navigating through all the varying portals.
In addition, e-books and audio books are available via the library’s Overdrive platform. I have found the Overdrive app a little difficult to navigate on my smart phone, but a friend told me if you download the Amazon Kindle app on your phone or tablet, you can log into Overdrive and it’s a lot easier.
Here’s how it all works. From the library homepage, log into your account in the upper right corner. For e-books and audio books, navigate to the Digital Media tab along the top of the page. (You will have to download the Overdrive app onto your tablet or smart phone if you want to be mobile). Then, follow the links the various Overdrive options and you can download titles to listen anywhere or listen online directly.
To access the myriad of databases, courses, lectures or news and periodicals, navigate to the Research & Homework Tab on the homepage. Scroll down and begin your adventure into a vast array of educational, employment, professional and enrichment resources at your fingertips.
I am especially interested in accessing educational content for my son who is dyslexic. This means print reading is very difficult for him and very slow going. Plus, being a tech native, he’s immediately drawn to digital learning — when he sees a screen I can almost see him drool in a Pavlovian response; for him, the screen is associated with an immediate reward-learning! He learns certain content better via listening and looking at images than through print media.
So, as much as I don’t like the idea of him in front of a screen, this allows him to access information that through reading books is just torturous for him. TumbleBooks is a digital book reader available through the library homepage that offers him the opportunity to read along, as the sentences are highlighted, listen, and watch the book animated, or access other educational resources like National Geographic videos.
Finally, it’s the time of year again when we begin our search for the biggest, baddest, longest, fattest icicle in Twisp. If you have a humdinger hanging from your eve or have seen one, send me a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will collect them over the next couple weeks and publish the winner in my column sometime in the near future. In the meantime, check out the library’s homepage and learn something new!