Never Stop Learning with Gale Courses


Never Stop Learning

by Jill Fuller, Marketing and Communication Librarian

May 2017

Maybe your company updated their software and you’re struggling to master it. Or it’s been decades since you applied for a job but now you have to write a new resume. Or you’ve decided that this is the year you’ll finally learn to cook. All of a sudden, you need to know how to do something you’ve never done before. Last weekend, I watched my cousin graduate from college, transforming from a student into a nurse as she walked across the stage. Students all across the nation are going through similar transformations this spring, marking their achievements and celebrating the education they’ve received. But learning doesn’t end when you take off the graduation cap. Throughout our lives, we continue to seek and acquire knowledge, driven by both curiosity and necessity. Physicist Rosalyn S. Yalow summed it up best: “The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you’re learning, you’re not old.” We find new interests and pursue new hobbies. We are asked to take on new opportunities at work. We are forced to adapt to the changes our tech-driven world demands of us. We lose our job and have to learn a new skill in order to find another one. All of this requires us to continually challenge ourselves to learn more, even if we never get a diploma.

But how do we get from here to there? Often, we need the guidance and expertise of others in order to become proficient in what we need to know. But not all of us have the time and money to sit in a classroom every week, so our opportunity to learn is limited. What are our options? Actually, your public library has one for you. The libraries in Waukesha and Jefferson counties offer access to something called Gale Courses, which are free, online classes led by real instructors. With over 300 classes available, you can learn how to use Microsoft Word or WordPress, grow your own garden, write a grant proposal, learn accounting software, or refresh your math and grammar skills, all in a six week session. The course catalog includes classes for professionals, like “Computer Skills for the Workplace” as well as personal development, such as “Natural Health and Healing.” In the two years since this has been available, over 2,000 library patrons have completed a class, with follow-up comments like “I learned more than I ever expected” and “I’ve already impressed my boss.” Staffing a table at a promotional fair last week, I listened to several people tell me how much they love the classes they’ve taken. It was exciting to hear that people appreciate the opportunity to learn new things on their own time. The only thing you need from your wallet is your library card since all the classes are free, and you can access the coursework online at any time, working it around your busy schedule. So while everyone else is hanging up their graduation robes this spring, you can sign up to be a student again. At the library, we believe it’s never too late to discover something new. Who knows what more you can learn?

To sign up for a class, log on to www.bridgeslibrarysystem.org/classes. Have your library card handy and you’ll be ready to go!

A version of this article appeared in the Waukesha Freeman, the Oconomowoc Enterprise, the Daily Jefferson County Union, and the Watertown Times. We will be sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.