In 2010 I returned to Seattle after living for eight years in the Philippines (read all about it my most recent vendor profile).
Because I was broke, I stayed at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and soon visited the Central Branch of Seattle Public Library (SPL), about a 10-minute walk away.
I was frankly astounded by all the educational websites available on the database computers free of charge with no time limit on usage. The best one of all was called Universal Class; I quickly enrolled in classes on foreign affairs and teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) and a few others.
I was excited about the idea of going abroad again and being able to make a living this time.
SPL also offered several language-learning sites. The best was called Live Mocha because I was able to have my lessons reviewed by other students in the countries where the language I was learning was spoken. I could, in turn, help them with learning English. I also found Transparent Language very helpful in building vocabulary.
I visited Texas for a job opportunity. Upon my return, I found that Live Mocha had been dropped from the database offerings. I enrolled in speed typing on Universal Class because slow typing speed was why I wasn’t hired for the customer service job I’d applied for in Texas. Sad to say, SPL chose to cancel Universal Class before I’d made much progress. However, I continued with Transparent Language, studying Khmer, the national language of Cambodia. Since my return from Cambodia and Mexico, I’ve spent about four hours a day studying Spanish on Transparent Language.
Unfortunately, SPL has been systematically canceling educational websites from its database offerings. It started with Universal Class, and we received notice about that one, but I’ve been seeing educational site after site canceled. I was shocked a while back when I needed info fast on the health and wellness site to find it disappeared with no apparent notice. I was recently dismayed to find — again with no apparent notice — that Transparent Language has been canceled!
My complaints to the library were replied to with “The sites were not renewed due to lack of use and cost of the service.”
Yet services such as Kanopy and Hoopla have been added. They mainly offer lots of movies, some with educational value but most with only entertainment value (I’ve no data as to their cost compared to the educational sites that have been dropped). No doubt they’re very popular and getting a lot of use, but I believe the primary focus of SPL should be education first and foremost. Of course entertainment offerings will always be more popular than educational offerings, but I think education should not have to compete with entertainment on an equal footing. SPL shouldn’t put entertainment ahead of education.
Entertainment is well provided by commercial for-profit sources.
After receiving SPL’s response I contacted Transparent Language. They encouraged me to let SPL know that I objected to them dropping Transparent Language from its database offerings, which I did, forwarding an email advertisement from Transparent detailing the superiority of it over other language instructional websites such as Mango Languages, which SPL has retained — so far. There was no response to this message.
Tony Jeffers is a Real Change vendor.
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