Engaging Methuen Readers

Spotlight on Ebooks: Safari

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Safari Books Online

I am something of a computer nut. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me – if it’s blinking, I’m up for it. However, I come from an unlikely background. English, anyone? With a background in creative writing, even?

In all seriousness, my second degree – the one that landed me in Libraryland – was much more tech-focused than my first. But, Johnny-come-lately that I was, I didn’t have a chance to focus on high-end programming languages as much as I’d have liked. Enter Safari Books Online.

Nerds, you may start your computational knowledge engines. This incredible resource is available to you, too

Ruby Wizardry


A book that teaches your children to code Ruby.


It doesn’t matter what you want to learn. You can be a hardware geek. You can be an experienced big-data data cruncher. You can be a child. Safari will take you where you want to go by providing the textbooks that software developers use in college.

The computing textbooks are far and away the best reason to use Safari. However, a tremendous number of Make: books are also available, which include titles that can teach you to make stuff like the pioneers. (Early life hacking?) All of the For Dummies books are there too – because why not? – and there’s a category for personal and professional development, even down to marriage and family health.

There’s no wait for copies as there is with OverDrive and Axis 360, but this is because copies are not downloadable. Since so many computing textbooks are best used while propped open next to a keyboard and a steaming mug of coffee at 2:30am, it can be a little hard to utilize the book as it lives online. A library account won’t let you bookmark your place, either. (A paid personal account will.) However, using a tablet to access the book and then simply keeping it open is a viable, if not ideal, workaround. Considering the variety and usefulness of the books available here, I find it worth the inconvenience. This is especially true since the staggering volume of computing material present represents hundreds of thousands of dollars more in specialty information than even the largest and best-funded public library could hope to stock.

If you’re in the mood to learn something esoteric, like COBOL, Safari should be your first stop. If you want to expand upon your skills or acquire new ones, Safari is your go-to. Even if your goal is to sort through programming books with intention to borrow or buy a paper copy, Safari is an invaluable resource. I recommend it to geeks and non-geeks alike.

Author: Anna

Anna is a reference librarian and computer nerd at the Nevins Library. She is a fan of all speculative fiction.

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