A new way to learn online | Darcy Brixey


I signed up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It’s a fun and free challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. The last 200-page manuscript I wrote took nearly two years to complete and it’s still a mess.

NaNoWriMo seemed like a fun (albeit crazy) goal to set. It’s going to rain all month anyway, so I have nothing to lose, except maybe a little sleep.

It’s still early in November and I’m pleased with my progress of two entire chapters, but any minute I’m going to get stuck. I will be stuck because my main character doesn’t know what to do or the problems are not plausible in the world I’ve created. Or maybe I’ll get stuck because I can’t format the manuscript properly in Word. King County Library System has a new resource that will help with all those problems.

You have probably seen the advertisements for Lynda.com cropping up on Facebook and news websites. It’s a database designed for the home user, filled with video lessons on computer software and other technical skills.

If you feel like you are not a technically savvy person, don’t let that deter you. A look through the subject list of courses and software showed lessons on sharing your family tree with Ancestry, flash photography and writing. An individual membership can be over $250 a year, but King County Library System now subscribes to this resource, so patrons have access to the lessons free either in the library or remotely.

There are plenty of free tutorials out there in places like YouTube. Without YouTube, I wouldn’t know the dance steps for the Electric Slide, lyrics to commercial jingles from the eighties or even what a fox says. However, the credentials of the instructors are not always revealed.

Every course in Lynda.com lists the author of the lesson, his or her credentials, transcripts of the session and even downloadable exercises. Courses are searchable by subject, author or software name. Searches can be further limited by user knowledge, into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

If you would like to explore the offerings in this resource please visit the KCLS database page at www.kcls.org/databases. You can find it in the alphabetical list, or under the subject headings Careers & Education and Science & Technology.

I only have 40,000 more words to write for NaNoWriMo. So far, my laundry has been finished, the kitchen is clean and I’m waiting for the words to come. There is a writing lesson in Lynda.com called The Craft of Story. I’m going to log in to see if it has a chapter on procrastination.


Darcy Brixey is the teen services librarian at the Bellevue Library. She’d like to tell you she loves to read, but it’s an expectation of the job.


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