Category Archives: Adults

What Do You Want to Learn?


…wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.

Albert Einstein


Where are you on your lifelong learning journey? No matter what stage you are at, the Library has the online learning resources you need.  We’ll take you from homework help,  to college entrance prep, to graduate and occupational exam prep, through job search skills all the way to workplace skills and technology.  You can also learn almost any language, enrich your hobbies and follow your personal interests—at any age!

Here’s an overview of the lifelong learning resources you can access online with your Scotch Plains Public Library card.  Please feel free to call us with any questions! Video is our latest addition and our most extensive source of video courses, all taught by industry experts.  You can choose a specific course that meets your current needs or interests—or If you want to go deeper, you can follow a specially designed Learning Path that can help you master a skill or prepare for an exam.  Here are some of the  Learning Paths, organized by category:

  • Business: Become a Craft Business Owner; Become an Agile Project Manager
  • Audio + Music: Play the Guitar; Produce Audio for Film and Video Projects
  • CAD: Stay Ahead in Sustainability in Green Building; Become a Civil Engineering CAD Technician
  • Design: Design a Comic Book; Become a Digital Illustrator
  • Developer: Become a JAVA Programmer; Become a DEVOPS Engineer
  • IT:  Become an IT Support Technician; Prepare for the MCSA Windows 10 Certification
  • Marketing:  Become a Social Media Advertising Specialist
  • Photography: Become a Product Photographer
  • Video: Become a Video Editor; Master After Effects
  • Web: Become a Full Stack Web Developer; Master Photoshop for Web Design

Courses can be downloaded for offline use, and with the app, you can learn anywhere, anytime.  (To login on the app, select:  Already a member?; from the top of the screen select: Organization;  under Web Portal type: and click on Log in; enter your library card number and PIN and click on Log in.

You can also watch videos on your smart TV using Roku and Apple TV.

The Great Courses

Great Courses

Are you out of school, but wished you had learned more about science, history, math, or philosophy?  Would you like to improve your skills in a hobby like photography or cooking? The Great Courses (available from RBDigital) has what you’re looking for!

See a list of available courses  organized by topic; highlights include:

  • Food & Wine: The Everyday Gourmet: Making Great Meals in Less Time
  • Health, Fitness & Nutrition:  How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy
  • Hobby & Leisure: Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy
  • History: History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective
  • Literature & Language: How to Read and Understand Shakespeare
  • Mathematics: The Secrets of Mental Math
  • Music & Fine Art: The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works
  • Philosophy, Religion & Intellectual History:  The Big Questions of Philosophy
  • Professional: Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You
  • Science: The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries (taught by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D.)
  • Travel: The Great Tours: Experiencing Medieval Europe
Each course consists of 30 minute video lectures, and many have accompanying Guidebooks that cover the content and can be downloaded and saved or printed.

Learning Express Library

Learning Express Learning Express Library can take you from middle school through college and on to achieving success in your best career.  It offers more than 1,000 tutorials, practice exams, and eBooks offering basic skills mastery, academic success, job preparation, and career advancement, and preparation for citizenship.

Learning Express is grouped into these categories:

  • School Center: Skill-building resources for classroom and homework success in most subjects for middle school through high school.
  • High School Equivalency Center:  prepare for the GED® Test and the GED® en Español.
  • College Test Preparation:  tutorials and practice tests (including complete simulated practice tests) including ACT, SAT, PSAT, TOEFL and more.
  • College Students: skills review and preparation for graduate school tests including GMAT, GRE, LSAT,  MAT, and MCAT.
  • Career Preparation: Start a new career or advance in your current field; prepare for entrance exams for Nursing, Health Occupations, and ASVAB, or for occupation exams in numerous fields, including Postal Worker, Teaching, Law Enforcement, and EMT.
  • Job Search and Workplace Skills:  learn to create your best resume and get interview tips.
  • Adult Core Skills:  review math, reading and writing skills, and prepare to become a U.S. citizen.

Tutor.comDon’t struggle with homework! offers one-on-one help in 40 subjects including math, science, essay writing, foreign languages, social studies, test prep, and more with live qualified tutors. Improve your research papers, resumes, and test scores. You can even submit your essays for overnight feedback.  Homework help operates from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m., 7 days a week also offers the Princeton Review test prep resources for preparing for the SAT, ACT and AP exams, including timed full-length practice tests, detailed score reports, video lessons and practice drills.

You can also get help and study on the go with mobile apps for

Language Learning

Mango Languages    Rosetta Stone

Do you want to brush up on your high school French, learn English, Urdu or Spanish, or one of dozens of other languages?  Try one or both of our online language learning resources!

Mango Languages offers instruction in 71 languages (including ‘Pirate!)  English language learners can choose a course tailored for one of 21 native languages.

Mango also offers:

  • Short specialized courses for specific needs or just for fun.  You can learn the vocabulary for Job Seeking in English,  order wine and cheese in French, or toss out some German at an Oktoberfest or some Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!
  • Fully interactive feature films you can watch in ‘Engage Mode’ for insight into the dialog, grammar and culture.

Rosetta Stoneis a language resource provided by the NJ State Library that includes 30 different languages.  Features include:

  • 50 hours of foundational instruction
  • Core lessons to build reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills
  • Focused activities to refine grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and more
  • A mobile app that enable learners to reinforce language on the go

Dog at a computer
I’m learning how to animate a running dog in the course, 2D Animation: Animal Walk Cycles!



Please let us know how these resources are helping you learn!

New from RBDigital: Acorn TV, IndieFlix and The Great Courses!

Acorn TV

Scotch Plains residents with adult or young adult library cards can now stream Acorn TV, Indieflix, The Great Courses Library Collection, and Pongalo (Spanish-language content) – free of charge on their web-connected devices through RBdigital.

Those who already use the RBdigital app for ebooks and audiobooks will see this new content right away. Those who are new to RBdigital can set up an account on the library’s website and then download the app onto their devices.  You can stream on the RBDigital app or online in a browser.

Acorn TV “the best in British TV and film” features:

  • Thousands of hours of world-class mysteries, dramas, and comedies.
  • 80+ exclusive shows, including A Place to Call Home, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime and more.
  • Latest seasons of favorites such as Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, and Murdoch Mysteries.
  • Acorn TV originals including Loch Ness, Striking Out, Agatha Raisin and more.
  • You can browse the selections here before you set up your account.
  • Also available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV.

The Great Courses Library Collection:

  • Over 150 of the most popular courses taught by the world’s top professors.
  • Topics include science, history, culinary arts, literature and more.
  • See a list of available courses (pdf)


  • Stream over 7,000 high-quality shorts, features, documentaries, classic TV shows and Web series from 85 countries.
  • Film-festival hits: View films from major festivals all over the world, including Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, and more!
  • Also available on Roku, Xbox, and Apple TV.


  • Largest collection (over 10,000 episodes) of favorite telenovelas and TV series.
  • Favorite Spanish-language content from more than 10 countries.

Resident cardholders get 2 logins per week to be used in Acorn, Great Courses, Indieflix or Pongalo, and each login is good for 7 days.

Scotch Plains residents with adult or young adult library cards also have access to a new Comics collection, the StingRay Qello concerts, and the RBdigital ebook and audiobook collections that have proven to be popular and continue to expand.


Coming Soon—Streaming Video

The Library will soon be offering popular free streaming video services from RBDigital and Kanopy   Here’s a look at what’s coming to entertain, educate and enlighten you!  Watch for upcoming information on starting dates and access procedures.

Kanopy is a streaming site where you can watch over 30,000 films, including:

  • Classic and contemporary films from around the world, including The Criterion Collection (films of Federico Fellini, Francois Truffaut, Jim Jarmusch, Agnes Varda and many more.)
  • Documentaries on virtually every topic imaginable – from PBS and independent filmmakers
  • The Great Courses, offering in-depth learning experiences in science, history, culinary arts, literature and more.

Users can access Kanopy through a variety of devices and platforms, including Roku, Apple TV, iOS and Android, as well as computers.  Wi-Fi access is necessary to view movies, which are available to stream but not to download.

Acorn TV

RBDigital’s Acorn TV

You know RBDigital as our provider of great e-books and e-audiobooks—but they also offer a number of streaming video services.   Coming soon, the Library will be offering RBDigital’s Acorn TV“the best in British TV and film.” It features:

  • Thousands of hours of world-class mysteries, dramas and comedies.
  • 80+ exclusive shows, including A Place to Call Home, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime and more.
  • Latest seasons of favorites such as Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, and Murdoch Mysteries.
  • Acorn TV originals including Loch Ness, Striking Out, Agatha Raisin and more.

Watch through RBDigital mobile apps, or online in your browser.

Look for upcoming information soon on more video offerings from RBDigital!

Libraries Rock!

You’ve probably heard about our summer reading programs for kids and teens, but did you know we’ve got plenty going on at the library that will appeal to adults as well? We can’t let the kids have all the fun! This summer’s theme, Libraries Rock, will allow the community to explore, discover, participate in, and contribute to a variety of programs. We’ll prepare for the Downtown Race to Summer with Fueling for Running and a Runners Book Discussion, learn about Fluorescent Minerals and Gourmet Salt, gain insight into Bruce Springsteen & His Layered Lyrics, use telescopes to view The Night Sky, put our music knowledge to the test with a fun Trivia Night, talk about what we’re reading at Bagels & Books, get artistic when we Make a Mosaic and create Jewelry Projects, and watch Movies You Can Sing Along With and Films with Oscar Worthy Scores. Please note that registration is required for most programs and opens on Friday, June 1.  Register here! We can’t wait to see you at the library!


The Great American Read: 100 Books, One Winner

The votes have been cast, and the top Great American Reads are:

  • #1 To Kill a Mockingbird
  • #2 Outlander
  • #3 Harry Potter
  • #4 Pride and Prejudice
  • #5 Lord of the Rings

Click here to see the full list of results.

We are still celebrating The Great American Read!

    • Books and printed copies of the list are available at the library, and we have many of the books on display. Titles are also available as ebooks and eaudiobooks using Libby or RBdigital.
    • Share your thoughts about The Great American Read on our post-it display behind the circulation desk.
    • How are your book smarts? Play by yourself or bring a team to The Great American Read Trivia Night on Monday, November 5 at 7pm.
    • We close our TGAR series with How We See Ourselves in What We Read on Wednesday, November 28 at 6:30pm. Dr. Laura Nicosia of Montclair State University will discuss how exposure to diverse books impacts the development of critical thinking skills and empathy. This program is also funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Scotch Plains Public Library is one of 50 libraries nationwide to receive a grant from the American Library Association (ALA) and PBS to host special programs this summer and fall around the new interactive series from PBS: The Great American Read.

See the Parade magazine feature on the Great American Read!

Programming for The Great American Read is offered as part of a grant from the American Library Association and PBS.

Getting Started with Genealogy

Learn how to get started with the fascinating and rewarding activity of finding your roots! Join us for Getting Started with Genealogy on Saturday, May 5 at 2 pm. Jane Thoner, Genealogy Librarian at Plainfield Public Library, will introduce us to the basic principles and cover how to best use our library’s genealogy resources (Ancestry Library, Heritage Quest, and the local Joint Digital Archives). Participants will also be able to start their own family tree chart. Registration is required.

If you are interested in tracing your roots but can’t attend our program, check out a book from our genealogy display in the adult room to help you get started at home.

Here Comes the Sun

Spring is finally here! We hope you can join us for some of these exciting events coming up in April.

The Beatles: The Beaginnings
Thursday, April 12 at 7 pm

They rose from modest beginnings to become, in their own words “The Toppermost of the Poppermost.” Today, music enthusiasts and historians have begun to look back to the era before they were the Fab Four and before their singles were automatic No. 1s to understand what contributed to their enduring success. Our presenter Paul Groom was born, and lived for the first seventeen years of his life in Liverpool, England. He went to the same High School as Paul and George; he went to the same Sunday school as John Lennon; he went to the youth club where John met Paul; he lived in the same village as George and John; and he (of course) is a Beatles fan. Paul and his family are now Scotch Plains residents. Registration is recommended.

Our Magnetic Sun: Solar Telescope
Saturday, April 21 at 1 pm

Astronomer Bob Reichman returns to discuss Our Magnetic Sun. There is no fire on the Sun! All that energy is electromagnetic. We’ll start inside to share fun solar facts, learn about sun spots, the Northern Lights and see 2017 Total Solar Eclipse pics. After our program, we’ll go outside to set up a specialized, h-alpha solar telescope that will let us safely observe the Sun and provide us views of any sunspots or solar prominences that might be visible. Every child will receive a UV-sensitive bead bracelet that “magically” changes color in sunlight, but not other bright lights. Registration is recommended.

Rain Barrel Workshop
Sunday, April 22 at 1:30 pm

Rain barrels capture water from a roof for later use on lawns or gardens. In this workshop, we’ll make rain barrels to take home with help from representatives from the AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program.  All participants will need to bring their own safety glasses and this specified diverter kit: EarthMinded DIY Rain Barrel Diverter and Parts Kit -RBK-0001. Options for purchasing can be found online at Amazon and Home Depot.   We will supply the 55-gallon industrial-grade containers. (If you have an electric or battery-operated drill, please bring that as well.) Participants must have a downspout at home in order to install these barrels, and should be prepared to follow the written instructions that come with the kit in order to complete the installation at home on their own – this includes drilling a hole in your downspout. This workshop is limited to the first 10 individuals or families who register here.

Tinker, Learn, and Make on NJ Makers Day!

Scotch Plains Public Library is pleased to announce our participation in the 4th annual NJ Makers Day!

NJ Makers Day will fall on both Friday, March 9th and Saturday, March 10th and throughout the two days we will have workshops, demonstrations, and other fun activities for all ages.

Please visit our Makers Day site to view the full schedule of events.

Program Series: Taking One’s Freedom

February Program Series on Freedom

Explore with Us:

Exhibit / Collage Making / Lecture / Book Discussion / Resources

In February, we will be taking a closer look at the notion of freedom, primarily through the lens of Frederick Douglass’ journey to his own freedom. Take some time this month to explore the meaning of freedom through our programs. Visit our exhibit, participate in an intergenerational art program and a special lecture, and contribute to a book discussion. You’ll be sure to come away with some new ideas and insights about freedom!  Our Library Resources can help you continue your exploration of the life and work of Frederick Douglass.

All events are listed below, with links to register where needed.


From Slavery to Freedom: The Journey to New York City



The Library will host Frederick Douglass From Slavery to Freedom: The Journey to New York City, a traveling exhibition, from Saturday, February 10 through Wednesday, February 28. The exhibit is provided by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Drawing upon Douglass’ own words from his autobiography and materials from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, the exhibition will look at Douglass’ life under slavery and his daring journey to freedom. It explores the question, “What aspects of his youth shaped his determination to be free?” Visitors may gain a deeper understanding of Douglass’ quest for freedom and the difficult choices he made. These choices can resonate for Americans today who are facing great challenges in achieving their goals and dreams.



Make a Freedom Collage

FEBRUARY 10 from 9:30am to 11:30am


Creating a collage can be a powerful means of self-expression for young and old.  We welcome artist, photographer, teacher and mentor Mansa Mussa , who will lead an intergenerational program creating Freedom Collages from 9:30-11:30am. Completed collages will be displayed in our Gallery space throughout the month.

Please register your group if you plan to attend.

“Collage is use to explore ideas, [and] advocate concepts…But just as often it is the consummate means of personal visual expression and distinct visual vocabulary…”

-Gerald Brommer in Collage Techniques Book

Collage Techniques, a Guide for Artists and Illustrators




Frederick Douglass: Reader, Preacher, Orator

FEBRUARY 10 at 2pm


Professor Douglas Jones, Rutgers UniversityDr. Douglas Jones of Rutgers University will present Frederick Douglass: Reader, Preacher, Orator, a lecture about Douglass’ public speaking career, which ranged from local preacher to world-renown orator.  Professor Jones will discuss the religious and secular contexts that gave shape to Douglass’ rhetorical style and helped make his speaking career so memorable. Light refreshments will be served following the lecture.

Please register if you plan to attend.

Read some of Douglass’ speeches in our database African-American History Online (Scotch Plains Library card required to log in.)

Frederick Douglass Speaking
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. “Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave, on an English platform, denouncing slaveholders and their religious abettors.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1852.




Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave

FEBRUARY 15 at 7pm


Book cover: Never CaughtOn Thursday, February 15 at 7:00pm, Dr. Linda Caldwell Epps returns to the Library to discuss the book Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. A limited number of copies of the book will be available to borrow beginning February 1.  Stop by or call the Reference Desk at 908-322-5007 x 204 to reserve a copy.  Registration is required as well.

Further reading:

In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington.”  New York Times article about Ona Judge and Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s determined quest to bring her story to light.


“There’s a myth of the North as free, but her story shows how complicated that was…”


Additional Resources at the Scotch Plains Public Library

Books (Print) – all are available to borrow:


In the Words of Frederick Douglass: Quotations from Liberty’s Champion


“The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.”

“There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution.”

“Frederick Douglass has left one of the most extensive bodies of significant and quotable public statements of any figure in American history. In the Words of Frederick Douglass is a rich trove of…nearly seven hundred quotations by Douglass that demonstrate the breadth and strength of his intellect as well as the eloquence with which he expressed his political and ethical principles.’  (From the publisher)


Book Cover: Giants : the parallel lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham LincolnGiants : The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln


“…long before they ever met, they read, virtually memorized the same six books or authors, and that was central to their self-making.” -NPR interview with author John Stauffer, 2009

 “Stauffer manages the nifty trick of reinterpreting the familiar story of Lincoln, the Civil War and slavery by introducing Douglass as an important character in this narrative. Douglass was disappointed with Lincoln at first, but grew to become friendly with the president. This fascinating book will be of interest to popular audiences and academics alike.” -Star Ledger 


The Radical and the Republican BookThe Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics

“Douglass’s views on race were essentially modern; the book is really a study through his eyes of the more complex figure of Lincoln….Oakes vividly conveys both the immense distance America traveled to arrive at a more enlightened place and the fraught politics that brought it there.  -Publishers Weekly




Frederick Douglass biographyFrederick Douglass

“…the author presents the known facts of Douglass’s stormy life and reveals the man behind the icon: his complex and ambiguous friendships with William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown and other figures of the day; his gossip-stirring relationships with several dynamic white women; his controversial tenure as U.S. minister to Haiti near the end of his life. McFeely analyzes Douglass’s autobiographical writings, probing insightfully into the complicated psyche of this heroic figure.” -Publishers Weekly





The Portable Frederick DouglassThe Portable Frederick Douglass

The Portable Frederick Douglass includes the full range of Douglass’s works: the complete Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, as well as extracts from My Bondage and My Freedom and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass; The Heroic Slave, one of the first works of African American fiction; the brilliant speeches that launched his political career and that constitute the greatest oratory of the Civil War era; and his journalism, which ranges from cultural and political critique (including his early support for women’s equality) to law, history, philosophy, literature, art, and international affairs, including a never-before-published essay on Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture. –From the Publisher

Research Databases


‘To use our research databases, login with a Scotch Plains Library card number.












  • Bloom’s Literature -find reference sources, literary criticism, the full-text of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and more.

Bloom's Literature Database