Lynda courses are great

You can likely get free Lynda.com access from your local library

You may have heard of Lynda.com, a popular website with thousands of educational videos teaching computer skills such as programming, web design, and using almost all software imaginable. It's a great service, but not cheap: subscriptions start at around $ 20 a month and can go up to $ 30 a month if you want to access the videos offline.

There is a workaround, however: local libraries around the world offer free access to the service, and chances are your local library could be one of them. How to find out.

What is Lynda.com?

Lynda, which was acquired by LinkedIn back in 2015, is a massive collection of online video courses primarily focused on technology and business. It's basically an expanded version of these websites that offer free online courses.

For example: if you want to learn more about Linux software, there are over 700 video courses. Some cover advanced topics like network security, while others are designed to help beginners explore and use Ubuntu's Unity interface.

There are hundreds of courses that describe Microsoft Office features and a particularly large video archive that teaches design and audio-video skills.

In short, if you want to learn to do something on the computer, this is a great way to do it. There are even videos that teach productivity skills.

The videos themselves are professionally made, most of the courses come with a collection of PDF worksheets that you can fill out as the course progresses. A transcript of the audio is highlighted under the video in real time, so you can see whether this helps you focus, or full screen mode instead.

How to determine if your library has Lynda access

Lynda.com does not offer every library, but a surprising number. Find out if your local library system offers this service here.

  • Check your library website. Lynda is usually listed in the Resources section of your local library's website, if available. If you can't find it on the website, try Googling the name of your local library system with the word "Lynda" and see if something comes up.
  • To make the transition easier, you have toGo to the library and ask a librarian. They'll know if the service is available, and probably point out other great digital resources as well. For example, many industries offer e-books. If you are totally against leaving the house, you can always call or email your local library instead.

Generally, if you want to use Lynda through a library, you need to bookmark a specific landing page. This is what mine looks like in Washington County, Oregon:

This will take you to a page where you log in. First, log into your local library's website with your library card number, then log into Lynda.com yourself. To use Lynda.com, you need to follow these steps in this order. It's a little annoying, but it 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. You do it when you download the free app for Windows or macOS. Once you have this application installed and signed in, you can use the "View Offline" link that appears under each video.

Click that button and the video will automatically download in the Lynda desktop app.

In my experience, this also worked when I was signed in to Lynda through the library. This means that I can work my way through the courses even if I don't have internet access.

I could point a lot more to Lynda, but it's intuitive enough for the most part. If you have free access to your library, you will find a few courses to work through and study.