Maybe you’ve heard of Lynda.com, a popular website with thousands of tutorial videos teaching computer skills like programming, web design, and how to use almost any software you can think of. It’s a great service, but it’s not cheap: subscriptions start at around $20 a month, and can cost as much as $30 a month if you want offline access to the videos.
But there’s a workaround: local libraries around the world provide free access to the service, and there’s a decent chance your local library is one of them. Here’s how to find out.
What Is Lynda.com?
Lynda, acquired by LInkedIn back in 2015, is a massive collection of online video courses primarily focused on technology and business. It’s basically a souped-up version of those sites that offer free online courses.
For example: if you want to learn about Linux software, there are over 700 video courses. Some cover advanced topics, like network security, while others aim to help beginners explore and use Ubuntu’s Unity interface.
There are hundreds of courses outlining Microsoft Office features, and an especially large archive of videos teaching design and audio-video skills.
In short, if you want to learn to do something on the computer, this is a good way to do it. There are even videos teaching productivity skills.
The videos themselves are professionally done, and most courses come with a collection of PDF worksheets you can fill in as you go through the course. A transcript of the audio is highlighted, in real-time, below the video, so you can read along if that helps you focus, or you can watch in full-screen instead.
How to See If Your Library Offers Lynda Access
Not every library offers Lynda.com, but a surprising number do. Here’s how to find out if your local library system offers this service.
- Check your library’s website. Lynda will typically be listed in the Resources section of your local library’s site, if it’s available. If you can’t find it by browsing the site, try Googling the name of your local library system with the word “Lynda” and see if anything comes up.
- Go to the library and ask a librarian. They’ll know if the service is offered, and and probably point out other great digital resources as well. Many branches offer ebooks, for example. If you’re totally opposed to leaving the house, you could always call or email your local library instead.
Generally, to use Lynda via a library, you’ll need to bookmark a special landing page. Here’s what mine looks like in Washington County, Oregon:
This will direct you to a page where you log on. First you’ll log onto your local library’s website, using your library card number, then you’ll log onto Lynda.com itself. To use Lynda.com you must do these things in that order. It’s slightly annoying, but gives you free access, so it’s hard to complain.
View Videos Offline With The Desktop App
Lynda lets you watch videos on the web, but you might be wondering if they work offline. They do, if you download the free app for Windows or macOS. Once you’ve installed that application and signed in, you can use the “View Offline” link seen below every video.
Click this button and the video will automatically start downloading in the Lynda desktop app.
In my experience, this worked even if I was signed into Lynda via the library, meaning I can work my way through courses even when I don’t have Internet access.
I could point out a lot more about Lynda, but it’s intuitive enough for the most part. If you can get free access from your library, find a few courses to work your way through and get learning.