Are you interested in becoming a web designer? What about a videographer? Want to expand your business skills?

Workforce development is a critical component of the library's mission to serve the community, and soon, patrons will have another tool to help develop and hone their job skills and learn new ones.

Beginning Sept. 1, patrons of Southwest Public Libraries will have free access to Lynda.com, an online service network that offers users more than 12,000 self-guided courses taught by industry professionals.

These courses cover a range of subjects including web development, computer programming, photography and business. They are designed for any skill level, and anyone using them can proceed at their own pace.

Lynda.com is owned by LinkedIn, which offers the network through a paid subscription. However, because of a historic agreement between LinkedIn, the Ohio Library Council and the Ohio Public Library Information Network announced earlier this summer, access to Lynda.com will now be offered to anyone with a valid card issued by an Ohio public library.

According to information from the OLC and OPLIN, this is the first such agreement between LinkedIn and a statewide system of public libraries.

The OLC is a statewide professional association that represents the interests of Ohio's public libraries, and OPLIN's primary mission is to ensure all Ohio residents have fast, free public internet access through the 251 local public library systems throughout the state.

When the Lynda.com service becomes available, it will be accessible through the library's website, swpl.org.

Once launched, it will prove valuable content to individual patrons, small businesses, employers and other organizations.

Lynda.com will be accessible remotely and at the library, through any computer with internet access.

Lynda.com joins a number of workforce related services that the Southwest Public Libraries system provides.

Through swpl.org, patrons can also access AtoZDatabases, a reference and marketing database that allows users to search for jobs, find business and individual profiles for research, conduct market studies and perform other business-related tasks.

SPL also offers access to Learning Express Library, which provides a number of online resources to support users in achieving their personal and professional goals. Some of its services and resources include test preparation, a computer skills center, a job and career accelerator and other features related to workforce development.

The library is known for helping children learn to read so they can read to learn. As the new agreement demonstrates, the library is also committed to helping adults who want to keep learning.

Mark Dubovec is communications manager for Southwest Public Libraries. Contact him at mdubovec@swpl.org.