Digging for Hidden Gems

As one of Gateway’s Summer students, I have been a busy bee, focusing most of my efforts on doing research for the Legacy Project (a website about the history of disability in Alberta set to be released in late Fall – stay tuned!), helping the Family Support team with ISPs & finding resources for families, and social media. With research being one of my main tasks, I have learned a lot, not only about the disability field, but the world of information itself. I was shocked to find so many valuable resources online and in Edmonton that I had never heard of before. It turns out that sometimes the best gems require a little bit of digging.

The first thing that I learned that blew my mind was the fact that you can get a free membership at the Legislature Library in Edmonton…it requires a mini airport-like security check and a bulky lanyard upon arrival, but nonetheless, it is meant to be used! The Library is located on the main floor of the Legislature Building and is chalk full of, well, legislative documents, as well as a plethora of books on a variety of social issues and policy analyses. It may not sound too thrilling, but the Legislature Library provides free access to high-quality, often original source information that cannot be found at the regular public library…plus it has those super fancy rolling ladders running along the massive aged wooden shelves. The Legislature has an online catalog for easier access to their selection so you can find what you are looking for before you go. Along a similar vein, if you have an Edmonton Public Library (EPL) Card you can get an Alberta Library Card to gain access to the online NEOS catalog, and take books out from the Government Library. I have used all of these resources while researching the history of disability in Alberta for the Legacy Project, and I have found some super useful information I may not have found otherwise.

Historic research aside, I have also found other, more practical resources. The most notable one being the Courses & Training page on the EPL website. This page is full of resources that almost any person can find a use for. Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? Do you need a math refresher for a university course? Want to learn online accounting software in order to start a small business or simply create a budget for yourself? With an EPL card you are able to access their whole resource library which includes, up to 3 free online instructor-led courses through Gale, Language learning programs such as Pronunciator, practice tests for high school students, and more. (I am not sponsored by EPL I swear, I just think that free, publicly accessible resources are hecka awesome and deserve to be shared so that more people can use them to their full potential)! I also found a learning series about disabilities including webcasts about assistive technology, inclusion, FASD and more on the Alberta Government website. This could be useful for people working within the disability field, or the public, who can always become more enlightened on how to create more inclusive communities.

Now, I know this may not be the most exciting thing you’ve ever read but I think it’s worth taking the time to shed some light on valuable resources that might not be common knowledge.I have gained a new perspective on research – that it isn’t just for academic papers or historic documents, but can lead to finding some valuable information that can be utilized by many. So when you find something cool, share it! You never know who may looking for the same thing as you but might be lost in the vastness of the available information of today, or simply doesn’t have the time to scour the internet.

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