Those who have visited the Forest Park Public Library’s web site over the last couple weeks most likely noticed a link to a new feature called Learning Express Library.

The link leads to a new service the library recently subscribed to which will allow all library card holders to take interactive practice tests and complete tutorial courses from either the library or their home computers.

“We were looking for a product that would be easy to use and wouldn’t require much explanation…this is valuable and it’s easy to understand why it’s valuable,” said Rodger Brayden, library director.

The test preparation materials offered through the service include practice tests for high school Advanced Placement tests, college entrance exams, LSAT exams, GED tests, SATs and ACTs, military entrance exams, citizenship exams and more, in addition to more general features such as writing skills improvement courses, grammar exercises, and tutorials custom designed for middle school students.

Brayden said the service was a perfect fit for the library since the books which contain these preparation materials and practice exams tend to fly off the shelves, especially during SAT and ACT time.

“Having it available at all times is much better (than just in print)…this way it doesn’t matter if it’s not on the shelf,” he said.

He said that some past online services the library has offered have not been as much of a hit as expected, most likely because users did not associate the service with an immediate need. The library recently cancelled its subscription to Newsbank, an archive of past newspaper articles, after finding that most members preferred to come in and read the articles rather than looking at them on a screen.

He expects the new service to be more successful because it is easy to use and has a “direct practical application to people’s lives.”

The Learning Express Library has been available on the library’s web site since September 1.

For now, it is linked on the library’s homepage, at, but Brayden said it will eventually be moved to the reference section of the site under the “databases” link.

Brayden said that the library’s new Youth Services Manager Kathy Mielecki will be reaching out to local schools to discuss ways that they can use the service to help their students.

The service costs the library $1,650 per year, a price which Brayden said was a bargain since it includes remote access capability, meaning that anyone with a library card can access it from any location.

We are delighted to introduce Kathy Mielecki to you as our new Youth Services Manager at the library. Kathy grew up in Chicago, and is a graduate of the Dominican University School of Library and Information Science. Her most recent experience was as a children’s programming director in the San Francisco Public Library System. Kathy’s hobbies include painting, drawing, writing, traveling, and playing drums.

“Submitted by Rodger Brayden