In the mail, I received a large catalog advertising the “Great Courses,” including some from National Geographic and others taught by famous professors, accessible at So I went exploring.

Their “sale” touts 80 percent off, and the list of courses was impressive from skills like languages, drawing and playing guitar to topics like “America’s Founding Fathers” and “The Aging Brain.” Prices start at $12.95 up to over $50.

Whenever I see something interesting available for a price, I naturally wonder if there is a way to get the same thing for free.

When looking for high-quality information without the price tag, always start at the library! The Kenosha Public Library website at lets you search their catalog for various resources.

Since the “Great Courses” is a known series, I typed “great courses” into the main search box on the page. The second item was titled “The great courses. Nutrition made clear (Videorecording (DVD)).” While a course on nutrition wouldn’t be my first choice, this listing did give me confidence the KPL provides DVDs of at least some of the same Great Courses that the slick catalog is advertising. That listing also provides a gateway to the rest of the series.

I clicked on that link to access the information about this DVD. In the pop-up window, about four lines down, it provides “Series info” with a link to the “Great Courses” series, which I clicked. This provided a list of 194 results!

Note that these are available from various public libraries throughout the state of Wisconsin, so not all are here in Kenosha. There is a button for each, however, to place the item on hold and pick it up within five days.

If you only want to see the items at a specific library (e.g. KPL Southwest), you can select from the list in the Library section at the upper left. Click the View All link to see all of the selectable libraries.

Note that some of the 19 or so items at KPL Southwest are actually audio recordings on CD and not all DVDs. Admittedly, this arrangement requires you to go to a library and pick up the physical CD or DVD and then have a way to play it. But they’re free!

Another resource freely available through the KPL website is If you want to learn a practical skill in a very easy-to-follow format, has thousands of videos available to watch online. Go to and hover over the Resources link, or go directly to Read the instructions carefully on how to access Lynda.

Once logged in, hover over the Library link at the top left and then over the various categories to see the types of topics you can explore. Or you can search for things you are interested in, such as photography, leadership, or personal finances. If you use LinkedIn, you can post your course completions on LinkedIn.

Use your local library to find your own “Great Courses.

Carol Sabbar is the director of computer services at Carthage College. Send email to