Summer Learning

Another academic year may be coming to an end, but that’s no excuse to stop learning. Personally, I’m going to take some time this summer to dig into the vast store of knowledge found in the Great Courses Series, a collection of recorded lectures given by great teachers on myriad topics that we have available for free in our Film and Audio Department. Here are some highlights:

Exploring the Roots of Religion with John R. Hale, Professor of Archaelogy at University of Louisville

War and World History with Jonathan P. Roth, Professor of History at San Jose State University

Masterpieces of Short Fiction with Michael Krasny, Professor of English at San Francisco State University

Earth’s Changing Climate with Richard Wolfson, Professor of Physics at Middlebury College

Other great free sources of learning worth exploring are MIT’s OpenCourseWare program, and Harvard University’s Open Learning Initiative. Each of these sites offers free course materials from actual classes taught at MIT and Harvard.

All of this open access to higher education makes me feel bad for Jude the Obscure, that sad character of Thomas Hardy’s who wanted nothing more than a university education, but was restricted from it by the powers that be. Happily, these days anyone can use the public library to tap the great minds of academe.



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3 responses to “Summer Learning

  1. Jeff

    Thanks Wes, those look like a great resource. Is there any way to search only within the Great Courses series to narrow down the selection a little? I tried browsing but the 577 results is a bit much.

    • Jeff, go to our catalog, and then click on “advanced search.” From there what I do is type in “great courses” in the top field with the “find” option as “any field.” Then I put my subject of choice in the next field (i.e. history, religion, etc.), and choose “subject” as the “find” option (though it also seems to work fine as “any field”). For material type choose “book on cd,” though there are also “books on tape” in this series, too. You might also change the location from CLP Main to “all libraries,” because I think a few other branches have them, too. — Wes

      • we no longer carry the cassette versions here at main (just CD and DVD here), but some of the county libraries have cassettes and even VHS tapes.

        if you just want to browse, you can visit the company’s website ( which divides everything into subjects quite nicely. if you find a title that interests you, just plug it into the catalog to see if we have it (i know we have most of them).

        and of course, i have to mention the modern scholar series from recorded books – they’re similar to the great courses, but each set is only seven hour-long CDs so they’re not as in-depth. they are, however, often available as downloadable MP3 audiobooks from netlibrary, which is a nice option.

        – amy, of film & audio

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