Wilkinson Public Library

Wilkinson Public Library staff who advocated for the new Learning Express database stand in front of a bank of public computers. Pictured, from left, are Laura Colbert, Tiffany Osborne, Jeannie Stewart and Gloria Chavira. (Photo by Vivian Russell)

 

Successful transitions involve preparation and planning, and oftentimes proof of competency.

Whether transitioning from high school to college, or from college into the working world — whether applying for a summer job or embarking on a second career — a test or certification is often a right of passage.

Some advanced tools are now available locally to help students and adults alike to further their career trajectory. The Wilkinson Public Library recently acquired an online database that offers interactive tutorials, resume assistance, career exploration, as well as practice tests and test preparation for examinations such as the ACT, SAT, AP, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, GED and more. There’s even a function that searches for jobs available in different cities, searchable by zip code and job type. 

In January, the Wilkinson Public Library acquired the database “Learning Express Library,” which can be accessed from home or anywhere with an internet connection via your library card number. According to their website, Learning Express “provides support to students and professionals for academic skill-building, standardized test prep, career certification test prep and more.”

Tiffany Osborne, library services specialist and president of Telluride Education Foundation, said people who live and work in the area often come to the library for resources like homeschooling, or to get their resume completed. 

“Constantly, a 20-something comes in and asks for help with their job application, resume or cover letter. We were fielding this help a lot; kids in the summertime, parents questioning about SAT prep course and so on. We’ve even helped older people to do their resume. Learning Express has great tools to assist in this process. This seemed to fit with our growing population and our diversity of population,” Osborne said.

Reference librarian Gloria Chavira said Learning Express offers useful resources for Telluride’s students and job seekers. There also is Spanish content for the Hispanic community. 

“The Spanish content offers GED test prep in Spanish and citizenship test prep in Spanish,” she said. 

Chavira also noted that Learning Express is “common among bigger libraries but often more difficult for smaller libraries to be able to obtain.”

‘A SECOND CHANCE’

William Acosta, 19, attended Telluride schools from second through 10th grades, then Montrose High School for 11th grade and half of 12th grade. He also held steady jobs in Telluride restaurants from the age of 14. Acosta encountered some hiccups during his senior year and never graduated.

Acosta plans to use Learning Express to study and prepare for his GED exams. 

“I am very excited to learn about this tool at the library. This is like a second chance for me,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to make up for some of the mistakes I made in the past and get my education back on track.”

Reference librarian Jeannie Stewart formerly worked as executive director of the University Centers of the San Miguel. 

“Since UCSM is no longer present in our rural community, I find that it’s extremely important to provide opportunities for adult learners to be able to continue their education without having to move away, take time away from their jobs, or incur costs traveling to and from another city,” she said.

There is even assistance for those who are not sure what jobs or careers they should be pursuing. Stewart said that two recent Telluride High School graduates came to the library and asked for help with choosing a career path. Stewart and Osborne directed them to a 60-question test within Learning Express, which helps individuals determine what careers are best for them based on their interests, skills and abilities. 

FOR YOUTHS AS WELL

The database not only is relevant for adults, but also to teens in high school. Victoria Girard from Norwood and her son Chase have been using the math prep portion of Learning Express. Girard is using the database in conjunction with homeschooling curriculum, community resources such as True North Youth Program’s peer-to-peer academic tutoring, as well as other learning centers like Kahn Academy and the ACT official website. 

Osborne, who helped Girard access the system, said Learning Express is one more tool that Chase can use to prepare for his pre-college testing. 

“It’s all in one place and it’s free,” she said. “That’s really important as a library to provide as many educational tools for our patrons of all ages, and in all different circumstances, from homeschoolers to students who are in an alternative high school to youth transitioning from high school to adulthood to adult learners and job seekers. I’m really glad we are providing this for our community.”

Learning Express offers preparation for a number of trades, industries and careers, offering guidance, information and testing requirements for anything from air traffic controller to a legal mediator to a health care professional. There is a way to explore careers based on categories such as in-demand occupations, green economy occupations, military to civilian occupations and so forth. 

It even offers “100 Conversations for Career Success,” an eBook that has more than 100 scripts and tips that will teach you how to confidently approach your contacts using social media, emails and cold calling — speeding up your job search.

Karen Lavender, guidance counselor at Telluride High School, is encouraging students to make use of Learning Express so that they have an additional resource to access free SAT and ACT preparation and practice tests. Lavender recently helped one of her students access Learning Express in order to assist with his vocational goals. 

Chase Green, a Telluride High senior, wants to become a fireman. Green said he’s planning to use Learning Express to prepare for emergency medical technician and fireman tests.

According to the Learning Express website, “Whether you’re just starting out or transitioning from volunteer/on-call status, the all-in-one ‘Becoming a Firefighter’ (handbook) tells you what you need to ace the test, stand out in the application process and get the job.” Upon clicking the “Become a Firefighter” link, a free, 218-page informational manual is downloadable. 

Learning Express is accessible to anyone by going to telluridelibrary.org, then to the “Research” tab on the right, then to “ Research all Databases” on the drop-down menu. Databases are in alphabetical order, so scroll down and click on “Learning Express Library.” One may create a personal account using an email address. 

The system does not require a library card at first, but a library card may be requested in order to access certain functions such as practice tests. For more information or a personalized tour, call the library at 970-728-4519 and request to speak with one of the librarians who is familiar with Learning Express.