A first-of-its-kind Ohio program offers thousands of free training courses from libraries

$2 million LinkedIn partnership has short classes for fun, plus “structured pathways” toward skills in certain careers

Ohio will be the first state to expand its online library learning program statewide, allowing any Ohioan with a valid library card to take thousands of small, free online courses, whether for fun or to bolster a work resume.

While some of the software tutorials and job interviewing videos take a matter of minutes, the system also offers numerous structured learning paths for those who want to take a series of classes aimed at a particular career goal.

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The program, for example, offers a six-course path toward becoming a Microsoft Excel specialist, or a 15-course pathway to become a front-end web developer. Many of the pathways feature tutorials, practice opportunities and eventually quizzes resulting in a certificate of completion that can be added to a resume.

The program is a partnership between The Ohio Library Council (OLC), the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) and LinkedIn, which owns the Lynda.com online learning network. Some libraries, including Dayton Metro Library, have offered the service. The state’s Public Library Fund will pay the three-year, $2.1 million cost to take the program statewide in September, according to Cleveland.com.

“The OPLIN Board chose to invest in this online learning platform because it gives Ohio’s public libraries another critical tool to cultivate the state’s workforce, and it’s strongly aligned with the skills needed for Ohio’s list of in-demand jobs,” Don Yarman, OPLIN’s Executive Director said in a news release.

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The library groups said this agreement is the first in the nation between LinkedIn and a statewide system of public libraries. The video courses are taught by industry experts and are designed for a variety of skill levels.

The LinkedIn service has more than 12,000 courses — everything from understanding more about your iPhone’s features and capabilities, to supply chain operations and project management, to instruction on dozens of computer software applications and programming languages.

“With this first-of-its-kind partnership, Ohio’s public libraries continue to serve as a model for the nation,” said Doug Evans, executive director of the Ohio Library Council. “Ohio already has the highest library use per capita in the United States. We are excited that this service will be available to every cardholder in the state. This partnership will help create economic opportunity and build Ohio’s workforce.”

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To learn more, visit ohioweblibrary.org/lynda/, or for Dayton Metro Library cardholders, go to daytonmetrolibrary.org and search for Lynda.com.

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