When e-learning became part of our lives back in March 2020, we all hoped it would be for a brief period of time. And, indeed, several of our area schools went back to class in-person with the fall semester. But now, with another surge in coronavirus cases, many are starting their spring 2021 semester at home—and parents have more than risen to the occasion.
Your local public libraries want you to know they are here to support all of your electronic learning needs! In this article, I will highlight just a few of the resources available at the Chillicothe Public Library, Illinois Prairie District Public Library, Morton Public Library and Peoria Public Library to augment students’ e-learning experience.
A Wealth of Resources
All of our libraries offer hundreds of thousands of audiobooks and eBooks through three databases: Libby by Overdrive, Axis 360 and Hoopla. Hoopla offers movies and TV shows as well; and worthy of note, everything on Hoopla is available with no holds. All have apps available for your smartphones and are also linked through each library’s website. Peoria and Chillicothe also offer movies through Kanopy, including “The Great Courses.”
At Peoria Public Library, you can take advantage of free online tutoring from 2pm to 11pm, seven days a week, through Brainfuse HelpNow, a digital platform designed for remote learning. Brainfuse has more than 2,500 tutors—all with bachelor’s degrees and more than 90 percent with master’s degrees. It also has an online writing lab, language learning lab, and even a virtual study room for studying online with friends!
The Illinois Prairie and Morton libraries are proud to offer World Book Online. In addition to thorough encyclopedia articles available in Lexile levels for all grades, it offers an assortment of learning games, videos and other activities. Similarly, Peoria Public Library offers Britannica, which can be relied upon for many disciplines—and even has a pre-research planner to help guide critical thinking.
Chillicothe Public Library features many open-access resources that anyone can use, regardless of location or library card status! At the top of their webpage on databases, they host a LibGuide which lists and briefly explains five pages of exceptional offerings for researchers, broken down by subject, including history, science, English, art, health and much more.
For additional niche resources, Illinois Prairie District Public Library offers AtoZ World Food, World Travel and Food America, which provide information on cultures around the world including recipes, economic information, and even the weather and climate of more than 200 regions. Peoria Public Library offers more than 300 practice tests through Gale’s Testing & Education Reference Center, which includes the College Planning Center and Virtual Career Library—perfect for graduating seniors. Morton Public Library has Lynda.com by LinkedIn, with access to an online learning platform and video library for both personal and professional pursuits.
For language learning, look no further than Mango Languages, offered at Illinois Prairie, Morton and Peoria public libraries. It offers instant access to comprehensive lessons covering more than 70 languages, including everything from Spanish, French and Hungarian, to Potawatomi, Shakespeare and even Pirate!
Local, Local, Local
Finally, all four libraries offer a robust collection of local newspapers and digitized microfilm through various databases. Local news stories, marriage announcements, obituaries and the like can be a great source of inspiration for storytelling and a great primary source for any research paper.
Of course, for many of these resources, a library card may be required. For many taxpayers in our area, these are available at your local library at no additional cost! Area libraries may even offer a library card application on their websites during the pandemic. Head to your library’s website for more information. Don’t know which library is yours? Call any of us today! We’ll be glad to point you in the right direction. PM
Joel D. Shoemaker, MLIS, is director of the Illinois Prairie District Public Library. This article includes contributions from the Morton, Chillicothe and Peoria public libraries.