Denver Library's New Online Learning Platform Offers 4,000 Courses

Denver Public Library is offering a new online learning course, Udemy, which will replace LyndaLibrary.
Denver Public Library is offering a new online learning course, Udemy, which will replace LyndaLibrary. Rob! at Flickr
The Denver Public Library has launched a new online professional learning platform called Udemy that replaces the LinkedIn-owned LyndaLibrary service it stopped offering at the end of March.

Collection Services Manager Stacey Watson says that Udemy has been a great platform for businesses, government agencies and nonprofits, and recently started partnering with libraries; the DPL, which started using it April 1, is one of the first.

“This was really great timing for us,” Watson says. “It has over 4,000 courses. And the depth of coursework is really something.”

Udemy lists courses in cloud computing, design, development, coding and information technology; there are also offerings in workplace skills such as finance, accounting, leadership and management, as well as courses on personal development including art, creativity, health and fitness, language learning, personal finance and stress management.

“There's even some drawing- and meditation-type courses,” Watson says. “And the coding platform is really nice, because it has kind of a built-in virtual coding environment where you can practice your work and then check your work and fix your errors.”

The library ended its subscription to LyndaLibrary, an online professional development service, over privacy concerns for library patrons. LyndaLibrary required users to register an account with LinkedIn, the employment-focused social-media platform, and DPL officials didn't like the private company collecting data on library users.

Udemy addresses the library’s concerns, Watson says.

“It's been on the market since 2010,” she explains. “But they partnered recently with a company called Gale, which is used widely by libraries for other online databases. Gale’s privacy policies and protections are very in line with what libraries are used to. And so when they and this partnership came about, we knew [we] could be confident that patron privacy would be protected.”

Udemy is open to registered library card holders, who only need to provide a name and email address in order to take a course. While all DPL locations are currently closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, those without a library card can apply for one online.

The library offers numerous other online services, including access to e-books and movies. With Colorado now under a stay-at-home order, the DPL is beginning to see a spike in usage. “We’ve always offered these resources,” Watson says. “We are really highlighting things right now that people are staying home and staying safe.”

LinkedIn purchased LyndaLibrary from its founder for $1.5 billion in 2015; it announced last week that it was working on a new library product that would let users participate without having to sign up for a LinkedIn account. But that came too late for the DPL.

Watson says that the library has no plans to go back to LyndaLibrary.

“We don’t really see any reason why we would want to go back to Lynda, now that this is on the market,” she says. “Udemy has everything we are looking for.”

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