Library launches online classes: Free lifelong learning program begins

The Bartholomew County Public Library will begin offering six-week free online courses in August.

It’s the first time the library has offered this type of content, provided through Gale Courses, library director Jason Hatton said.

The educational publishing company provides lifetime learning programs, often tied to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of the fastest-growing occupations, according to a library announcement.

Founded 64 years ago in Detroit, Gale provides 365 different courses through libraries in areas such as business, computer applications, design and composition, technology, healthcare, law, personal development and education.

Although these classes don’t provide transferable college credits, Hatton said people who complete them are provided something of value they can show potential employers.

Certificates of completion include a measurement of what has been learned through testing, Hatton said.

The courses are designed to offer a mobile-friendly, 24/7 classroom environment for people wanting a self-paced learning environment and engagement with fellow students and an instructor, according to the Gale website.

With new courses beginning every month, lessons are assigned twice a week and often feature text, video, interactive games and images, the website stated.

Hatton was at a conference with other Indiana library directors when he began hearing positive things about the online courses, he said.

Library directors in Washington and Hancock counties told Hatton they felt Gale had created a successful curriculum, and that their own patrons enjoy the courses, Hatton said.

The decision to offer these classes in Bartholomew County was largely determined by a selection committee headed by Tyler Munn, library reference supervisor.

While the database for these courses will costs taxpayer about $4,400 a year, there is no limit on how many students can utilize it at any given time, Hatton said.

A division of Cengage Learning since 2007, Gale provides a variety of other products that include the Academic OneFile, Biography and Genealogy Master Index, General OneFile, General Reference Center, Sabin Americana and World History Collection.

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While the Gale Courses being offered through the Bartholomew County Library don’t provide transferable college credits, they do feature: 

  • A mobile-friendly classroom environment
  • More than 365 online courses available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Six-week long classes that begin every month.  
  • Courses focused on professional development, technology skills and personal enrichment
  • Classes taught by professional college instructors and field experts.
  • One-on-one help
  • Certificates of completion that indicate how much a student has learned.

There is no cost to take these courses. Individuals signing up should have a Bartholomew County Library card and Internet access.     

Register by visiting the main library at 536 Fifth St., Columbus, or the Hope branch at 635 Harrison St.; calling 812-379-1266 or visiting