Chicago Public Library kicks off the third round of Learning Circles

Some of the librarians who will be running Learning Circles this spring.

Some of the librarians who will be running Learning Circles this spring.

15 CPL librarians will launch Learning Circles in their respective branches this April. Courses on offer include some repeats from last year such as Public Speaking, Intro to HTML/CSS, and Fiction Writing, as well as 4 new courses: Pre-College English; Try College 101; Resume, Networking, and Interview Skills; and Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making.

CPL and P2PU pioneered Learning Circles in 2015 with funding from the Knight Foundation News Challenge. Together, we created a model for study groups to come to the library and work through online courses, together. Our pilot round indicated much higher retention that solo online study (~45%), greater learner diversity (65% were first-time online learners), and a commitment by patrons and librarians alike return in 2016.

Each Learning Circle runs for between 5 and 8 weeks, meeting for 90 minutes/week in the library. Learning Circles are promoted primarily through local CPL channels, and each branch library provides laptops and headphones to patrons who do not have their own. Learning Circles are designed to accommodate learners working at various paces – some learners will complete the entire course during the Learning Circle while others may focus on a few particular sections.

It is exciting to see the CPL Learning Circle program growing beyond the support of pilot grant. In a recent talk about South by Southwest EDU, CPL noted how incredible it was for a new program to attract such a diverse set of branches and bring patrons back to the library week after week. For our part, we were proud to see many veteran librarians choosing to run another Learning Circle, as well as meeting the 10 new librarians who are about to run their first. If you or someone you know is interested in running a Learning Circle in your community, you can get started this spring too!

To see all the Learning Circles currently offered by CPL, check out or read more on CPL’s website.

To view individual Learning Circles or to sign up, click on a branch below.

Pre-College English

Career Edge: Resume, Networking, and Interview Skills

Introduction to Public Speaking

Start Writing Fiction

Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making

Intro to HTML/CSS (Make a Website)

Try College 101

Beginner’s Guide to Academic Writing


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