The San Diego Public Library offers a wide variety of free online courses

Interested in broadening your knowledge to improve your career or study prospects, satisfy your curiosity or explore a new hobby? There are many free online courses to do this at the San Diego Public Library.

The six-week interactive instructor-led courses are available to anyone with a “good” municipal library card. The free card can be obtained by those who live in the county, even if they do not reside in the city of San Diego, if they present the required identification and an address verified at a municipal library. This includes the Rancho Bernardo Library at 17110 Bernardo Center Drive. (For more details, visit

Gale course offerings are available through new sessions that start each month. The next session will start on March 18. The website is

Sample courses include “Drawing for the Absolute Beginner”, “Introduction to Guitar”, “Medical Emergency Management”, “Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint 2013”, “SAT / ACT Preparation Course”, “LSAT Preparation”, ” Intermediate QuickBooks 2017. ”“ Introduction to Criminal Law ”,“ Learn Sign Language ”,“ Spanish for Healthcare Professionals ”and“ Writing Effective Grant Proposals ”.

Help Desk Librarian Robyn Gage-Norquist said the San Diego Public Library began offering the courses online in 2014 through a bundle of offerings obtained from Gale Cengage. The online course component would normally cost the city around $ 60,000, if purchased on its own, but there is a discount as it is included with other items.

“We have a lot of electronic resources,” she said, explaining that other library programs are available for those who haven’t graduated from high school and are trying to get their GED, for example. . There are also practice tests for those who need to prepare for college or graduate entrance exams or take the test to enter the military.

When it comes to the Gale courses, “A lot of people take the courses because they are always trying to find ways to access education on their own,” said Gage-Norquist. In the last fiscal year, she said there were 9,000 connections to Gale Courses.

Some are interested because they receive employment advice through the Career Center at the Central Library in the city center. They are looking for a job and need to learn or “brush up” on their basic skills, such as with Microsoft Office. She said accounting, Microsoft Office, and graphic / web design courses are very popular.

“Most employers expect you to know the basics (of Microsoft Office),” she said. “If people haven’t had the opportunity to learn in a previous job or at school… (they can take) introductory and refresher courses. A certificate is awarded upon completion as proof of completion, but no college credit is available.

Others take the courses to enrich themselves personally. “A lot of people do it for fun, to learn more about (a topic) and they don’t have time to go to school,” she said.

Gage-Norquist said the schedule is very user-friendly and adapts to its pace. “It’s pretty flexible,” she said.

There is an interactive component, so it is “almost like taking college courses online” since there is a schedule and homework. Communication with the instructor and other students is through scheduled weekly interactions and / or email. Student reviews of the courses are also available.

There are currently around 370 courses on offer, with more added based on user demands and interests, she said. The Gale Courses catalog currently lists offers in:

• Accounting and Finance – Fundamentals of accounting, accounting software plus personal finance and investments.

• Business – business communication, business software, general business skills, grant writing, management and leadership, non-profit organization, project management, sales and marketing and how to start a business.

• Computer applications – Adobe, Microsoft and other applications.

• Design and composition – Adobe software, digital photography, graphic design and web design.

• Health and medicine – alternative medicine; auxiliary; emergency medical services and firefighters; ethics, law and compliance; health care certificate; health and veterinary information management.

• Language and arts – arts, creative writing, digital photography, graphic and multimedia design, languages ​​and publishing.

• Law and law – business and corporate law, criminal law, general and paralegal law.

• Personal development – arts; children, parents and family; digital photography; health and wellbeing; job search; languages; personal enrichment; personal finances and investments; start your own business and test the readiness.

• Teaching and education – classroom computing, languages, mathematics, reading and writing, science, test preparation and tools for teachers.

• Technology – certificate preparation, computer basics, computer programming, database management, graphic and multimedia design, networking and communications, security and web technology.

• Writing and Publishing – Business Writing, Creative Writing, Grant Writing and Publishing.

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