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CHECK THIS OUT: Reservations and resolutions, we can help you with that

Jackie Barber writes about how the Nelson library can make your resolutions a reality
Children’s librarian Jackie Barber signs up for an online Gale Course using a Chrome Book, both of which are available through the Nelson Public Library with your membership. Photo: Submitted

by Jackie Barber

Q: What’s a New Year’s resolution?

A: A to-do list… for the first week of January.

When I was tasked with the responsibility of writing one-fourth of a monthly column for the Nelson Public Library I certainly had my reservations. I have always considered myself somewhat of a writer. Have an academic research paper, grant proposal, or strongly worded email to write? I’m your girl! But “Check This Out,” a long-standing column in the Nelson Star, is not that.

My predecessors, Anne and Avi, were both creative writers with approachable styles. Even though I am certainly approachable in real life, my writing style leans more “facts and figures.” This is not a column full of facts and figures, so how was I going to change my writing voice entirely to meet the expectations?! I brought up my concerns with Anne and she told me to “own it,” introduce myself and apologize straight up. So here I am, standing in front of you and admitting my faults while declaring a resolution to work on developing a writing voice that better matches my cheery personality. Ah, there it is: that “R” word. Resolutions. A fitting topic for January!

When I left behind academia to join the world of public libraries (children’s services no less!) I did so because I love joy, I love spreading joy, and I love providing joy for free. Libraries love providing things for free (or at least for no extra cost beyond a library membership paid for by property taxes). And while resolutions may not be the most joyous offering, libraries are here to help you with those resolutions — for free! And hopefully keep you on track past the first month of the year.

Want to stop doom scrolling on social media? The library has books and DVDs to keep you entertained.

Want to start a podcast? The library has a recording studio with all the equipment and software!

Want to organize old photo albums or VHS tapes? The library has a digitization studio.

Want to learn a new language, such as Japanese or Spanish? Sign up for a Gale Course.

Want to learn a new skill, such as photography and photoshop? Sign up for a Gale Course.

Want to learn how to become a mystery writer, publish e-books, or even simply work on creative writing? (ahem, Jackie, take note) There’s a Gale Course for that!

Indeed, “sign up for a Gale course” could be my response to many New Year’s Resolutions.

Gale Courses are interactive, instructor-led courses that library card holders in good standing can take entirely online at no cost. Courses run for six weeks and new sessions begin every month. Many of the courses offer Award of Completion certificates after passing a final test and can help with both personal and professional development.

I have taken courses over the years myself, and really appreciated how easy it was to incorporate a few hours of learning each week into my life, as you have 10 days to complete each module in your own time. To find more information on Gale Courses visit the library’s website (, hover over the blue “Explore/learn/research” tab and select “Gale Courses.” The next round of courses starts on Jan. 18, but you have 10 days to sign up. All you need is a library card!

My colleagues will take over this column for the next couple months, but you will see me back here in April. Maybe I will have learned some more creative writing tricks by then.

Jackie Barber is the Nelson Public Library’s children’s services librarian. Check This Out runs monthly.