I love to read. I know. Shocker. I've got a stack of books on my nightstand. I've got a stack of books on a shelf in the kitchen. And I've got a stack of books sitting on the fireplace hearth in the living room. My husband is also a reader. Although his stacks of books are concentrated mostly in one room, he's got his stacks as well. It's pretty obvious which stacks belong to whom. His books lean toward the theological and philosophical. Mine tend to be non-fiction. I like historical fiction, but for the most part, I enjoy reading books based on facts, real events, and real people. Give me a history of the Cold War over a James Patterson any day. (No offense, Mr. Patterson!). There's just something about expanding my knowledge of the world that really appeals to me. Heck, if I could afford to be a perpetual student, I would do that in a heartbeat. Well, maybe minus having to live in a dorm room again.

Fortunately for me, and for you too, I don't have to worry about trying to win the lottery to be able to pay for tuition. With my library card from the Beloit Public Library I have free access to online learning databases like Transparent Languages (with over 100 different languages available), and LearningExpress Library (with tests and tutorials for career prep courses, college admissions, and core skills like improving your writing or becoming a better reader). There's also Gale Courses. This highly interactive learning database offers 6-week courses on accounting, financing, teaching, education, the law, and computer applications. Heck, there's even a course on how to start your own edible garden. And did I mention that they are all free with your library card?

For more information on these free learning opportunities, visit us at www.beloitlibrary.org and click on the Resources link. Or stop in and ask one of our library staff for a demonstration on how to get started on your free (did I say that already?) path to knowledge. See you soon, and in the meantime, check out these titles available at your Beloit Pubic Library.

"Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall" by Nina Willner. in this illuminating and deeply moving memoir, a former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family - of five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Book Description)

"The History of Philosophy" by A.C. Grayling. The first authoritative and accessible single-volume history of philosophy to cover both Western and Eastern traditions, from one of the world's most eminent thinkers. With characteristic clarity and elegance, A. C. Grayling takes the reader from the worldviews and moralities before the age of the Buddha, Confucius and Socrates through Christianity's capture of the European mind.(Book Description)

"Raised-Bed Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Sustain a Thriving Garden" by Tammy Wylie. Learn all about raised beds - and up your gardening game. Worried about space? Interested in bigger and better yields? Raised-Bed Gardening for Beginners shows you all the amazing advantages of raised-bed gardens - and how easy creating them can be. (Book Description)

- Jeni Schomber is Head of Library Services at Beloit Public Library.