By Emily Bell | LSU Student
Improved job skills may be only a library card away.
Since May, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library has offered more than 350 free online courses through a digital company Ed2Go to anyone with a library card. Officials say it may be the only such offering in the state.
Library cards are free to residents of all ages in East Baton Rouge Parish, thus allowing anyone to browse the course catalog, including syllabuses, instructor biographies, student reviews and session start dates.
Courses range from accounting to guitar and would normally cost between about $100 and $2,000 if taken privately through Ed2Go's website, Reference and Computer Services Coordinator Emilie Smart said. Public libraries are fronting the cost.
"With the economy being how it is and there are people who are underemployed, or unemployed or worried about staying employed, having free access to these employment skills classes are really great," Smart said.
Louisiana State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton believes the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is the only public library with an Ed2Go program in the state. "They tend to be on the forefront of new things," she said.
Baton Rouge city employee Cheli Roberson was able to stay current with her job skills through the library's Ed2Go program. For six weeks during August and September, she took the technical writing course – of her own volition – and blogged about her experience.
Roberson said she liked the convenience of the course and believes she learned as much about technical writing as she would have in a traditional classroom setting. Like anyone successfully completing an Ed2Go course, she obtained a certificate of completion and subsequently submitted it to her employer.
Roberson said the course already has caused her to re-evaluate a 300-page manual she compiled for the city's human resources department. She hopes to take another course in the future.
While only a limited number of courses are available for children and teens, such as test preparation courses, Smart said college students can obtain a library card and take test preparation courses geared to them for the Graduate Management Admission Test, the Graduate Record Examination and the Law School Admission Test.
Smart said BRCC already offers some Ed2Go courses for about $150 a class, but through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, they are free. From May to October, Smart said more than 850 people enrolled in a course, although not everyone may have a course. Smart said she does not have access to that number.
She took the fat-free cooking class, but was unable to complete because of time constraints. "But I still gave them good feedback," she said, noting the only downfall of not completing a course is not receiving a certificate of completion.
Smart said the library also recently obtained through Ed2Go a Spanish language course for medical professionals and law enforcement personnel, supplying a need expressed by local EMS.