Library Blog

New Year, Improved Mind with Online Resources

Artificial intelligence. Technology web background. Virtual concept

Happy New Year! Are you one of the many that has made a New Year’s Resolution? A popular goal many people choose to do is to learn something new.  If you are interested in picking up new skills or crafts, we have many online resources to help you succeed! To make them easy to find, we have grouped most of them together on our Learning Resources webpage. Here, you can choose among resources that will provide full online, self-paced courses (with certificates upon completion) and ebooks, audiobooks, and videos.   

Let’s start with the resources that provide full courses and tutorials: 

Learning Express Library provides unlimited access to a wide variety of tutorials and practice tests for elementary school students through adult learners. It is divided into centers.  When you login, you will be taken to your “My Center” page. Here it will keep track of what tutorials you are working on, along with ebooks you have chosen to download.  There is no time limit on completing tutorials, and ebooks download for an unlimited time period as well! To locate the tutorials, ebooks, and practice tests, here are recommended centers for all adult English and Spanish speaking learners out there: 

Learning Express Library Adult Centers combined screenshot

These centers will help you work on math, reading, grammar, speaking and vocabulary skills. Plus, they include a U.S. Citizenship tutorial and practice test.  The Computer Skills center covers beginner computer and internet tutorials through advanced tutorials for Excel, Word, and other Microsoft software. 


Did you know that Lynda.com began as an arts and crafts creative learning resource? While it is widely known today for its business and computer/technology video courses, it also still includes a variety of creative video courses.  There are art courses, such as Learning Calligraphy, or choose an art topic, such as Photography Training and Tutorialsplus various music lessons, such as Ukelele Lessons: Fundamentals and Singing Lessons: 1 Fundamentals. Of course, as already mentioned, Lynda.com also includes lots of computer and technology courses, from beginner to advanced, and general computer knowledge to specific software and coding.  You can locate courses by keyword searching and limiting results with filters, which is how I located these two basic computer courses: 

Lynda.com computer literacy course screenshot

Or you can choose a topic from the Library menu or, if you click on “Library,” you will see the All Subjects list and can click on one.  I picked Computer Skills (Windows) from the All Subjects list and found Working with Computers and Devices and Online Searching Tips and Tricks. Lynda Bi-Fold Brochure provides instructions on how to find and use the courses in Lynda.com. 


Universal Class has 500 courses to choose from on a wide variety of subjects.  You can actively work on 5 courses at the same time, and you will have up to 6 months to complete a course.  All the courses in Universal Class are fully accredited by an international continuing education association, so each course is listed with its C.E.U.s (Continuing Education Units). As with Lynda.com, you can browse the catalog of courses or do a keyword search to locate a specific course. One of the main differences from Lynda.com is that Universal Class courses involve reading lessons, submitting assignments for grading, and passing tests, along with viewing videos. If you successfully complete and pass all your assignments and tests, then you earn a certificate for that course. Another difference from Lynda.com is that there is no subject limitations on the topics that Universal Class provides courses.  Check out the catalog screen: 

Universal Class course catalog screenshot

You can take a course in Aromatherapy 101Bread Baking 101Excel 2019Introduction to Music AppreciationScreenwriting 101Typing & Keyboarding 101, Spanish Culture 101Watercolor Painting 101, and Yoga 101. Universal Class Trifold brochure is a printable brochure. 


While the first three resources have multiple subject courses to choose from, if you are mainly interested in learning a new language – or refreshing your skills in that high school language course you took years ago, you should definitely look at Mango Languages and Transparent Language Online. Both resources offer full courses to learn a language.  Mango Languages has over 70 language courses and Transparent Language Online has over 100 language courses. They also include specialized language courses.  For example, Mango’s Spanish, Latin American course includes specialty units on Business, Legal, Medical, and Text Talk. And Transparent Language Online’s Spanish, Latin American includes Business Vocabulary and Medical Vocabulary. What is unique to Transparent Language Online is that every English language course has a U.S. Citizenship course as well. A final note, both of these language resources have a free app for smartphones and tablets:

Mango Languages and Transparent Language Online apps


Moving on from the full online course resources, you can locate lots of educational material in our Digital Resources. 

Hoopla is the library’s streaming digital resource, providing free access to audiobooks, ebooks, music, moves and television series to library cardholders.  And you can use these on smartphones, tablets, and computers.  Last week, I showed the many choices in Hoopla for improving your body, well Hoopla also has lots of choices to help improve your mind!

Audiobooks 

Ebooks – There are lots of nonfiction, educational ebook subjects to choose from.  Here are some of the more popular areas of interest for many people: 

  • Computers – There are over 1,400 titles to choose from, such as Computer Science for Rookies, but you can narrow it down through the subcategories: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Computers categories screenshot
  • Cooking – If you are interested in learning new cooking styles and recipes, Hoopla has over 7,700 cookbooks to choose from, including 47 Instant Pot cookbooks (great for those who just received one over the holidays and need recipes now.) You can also use the many subcategories to help reduce your results: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Cooking categories screenshot
  • Crafts & Hobbies – are often a popular choice to pick up in a new year.  Here you will find over 3,400 titles to pick, with lots of subcategories to help you find exactly what you want: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Crafts and Hobbies categories screenshot
  • Education – This is a huge topic area with 10,400 titles to choose from.  You can narrow your interests by choosing from the various subcategories: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Education categories screenshot
  • Foreign Language Study – Here you will find over 1,300 titles to learn all sorts of languages – French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and many others – which can again be filtered down using subcategories: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Foreign Language Study categories screenshot
  • Language Arts & Disciplines – This has over 2,600 titles to choose from and among the categories you can narrow your results to is Sign Language: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Language Arts and Disciplines categories screenshot
  • Self-Help – Another huge area of interest, you will find over 13,900 titles covering all sorts of needs and issues to browse through here, along with many subcategories to filter down to more specific self-help topics: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Self-Help categories screenshot
  • Technology & Engineering – has over 2,300 titles to choose from, with many subcategories to help narrow your search: 
  • Hoopla Ebooks Technology and Engineering categories screenshot

Movies – Another area where there are many nonfiction topics to choose to learn about. Here are some popular choices to check out: 

Television – The final area of Hoopla with many nonfiction topics which I have narrowed down to a few popular choices for those looking to learn new skills and knowledge. 


Another educational digital resource would be our OverDrive catalog of eBooks and Audiobooks. There are lots of nonfiction, educational subjects to browse through.  Some top picks for those interested in learning something new would be: 


Of course, along with ebooks and audiobooks, you can always choose to learn through reading the digital magazines available in Flipster  

Art has 2 magazines: 

  • Architectural Digest 
  • Digital Photographer 

Hobbies, Interests and DIY has 18 titles to enjoy: 

  • American Craft 
  • Audubon 
  • Bead & Button 
  • Better Homes & Gardens 
  • Birds & Blooms 
  • Country Woman 
  • Crochet World 
  • Do It Yourself 
  • The Family Handyman 
  • Gun Digest 
  • HGTV Magazine 
  • Model Railroader 
  • A Needle Pulling Thread 
  • Outdoor Photographer 
  • Runner’s World 
  • This Old House 
  • Wood Magazine 
  • Writer’s Digest 

Science & Technology includes 6 magazines: 

  • Discover 
  • Maximum PC 
  • National Geographic 
  • Popular Mechanics 
  • Popular Science 
  • Wired 

A final resource for those interested in learning a new craft or hobby is thHobbies & Crafts Reference Center. 

Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center screenshot

You can browse by your craft or hobby interest, or you can do a keyword search.  This resource takes a very broad view of hobbies and crafts. Thus when you search backpacking, it will pull up articles evaluating the equipment backpackers need along with how to backpack and places to go. The Feature Video on the homepage changes once a month. Note the “Browse Popular Sources” area – these are full books, completely digitized and available for you to enjoy!


I hope you will find something of interest to you in this blog of digital resources which will help you on your goal to improving your mind in this new year.

Happy New Year!

Sara Churchill

Sara Churchill is the Digital Services Specialist and Assistant Supervisor in the Information Services Department at Main Library. A major fan of technology devices and computer research resources at work, she enjoys helping everyone learn to use their devices and the library's many online resources.  She loves reading Science Fiction/Fantasy books, British cozy mysteries, True Crime and other true stories, plus a past reader of horror fiction by the likes of Stephen King and John Saul (among others).  Also, she’s a big fan of Sci-fi, action, horror, spaghetti westerns, and based-on-a-true story movies.  Her blogs are for adults and the entire family to enjoy reading and trying out the many online resources free for PLYMC library cardholders to use.