Edmonton

Edmonton Public Library growing online resources

Cardholders at the Edmonton Public Library can now use their cards to log on free of charge to subscription-based educational websites.

Library user says membership card saves him hundreds of dollars

Gord Lacey calls his library card his "favorite use of tax dollars." (CBC)

Edmonton Public Library is opening a new chapter in learning.

Members can use their library cards to log on to subscription-based websites for free. These include educational sites such as Lynda.com, Treehouse, and Gale Learning. They can also download eBooks, music, and movies.

"It's my favorite use of tax dollars," said Gord Lacey, who picked up a free library card two years ago. "Having a library card is awesome. They're constantly surprising me with what they're offering for free."

Lacey said his library card has saved him hundreds of dollars on online subscriptions and memberships. He no longer orders hard copy magazines for his family, and he's even learning how to use digital tools to renovate his home.

"There's just so much content," Lacey said. "It sounds like I'm a heavy user, but I'm touching just a fraction of what they actually offer."

Sharon Karr, a manager at the library, said the library works directly with online companies to arrange licenses paid for with part of the library's annual budget.

"It's like having free Netflix," she said. "The usage within Edmonton was just outstanding immediately."

As online resources become more popular, Karr says more money is being reallocated from traditional library fare such as books to digital content.

"We move the funds to where we see the use."

The library waived membership fees for Edmonton residents in 2013. Karr said the library has since been growing their digital inventory.

She adds that the service is especially popular with members who want to improve their career prospects without paying for courses.

"Public libraries have always been a place for learning," Karr said.

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