Livemocha opens door on language learning at Seattle Public Library

Visitors to the 28 branches of the Seattle Public Library will now have the ability to pick up some new language skills, thanks to a partnership between the library and Seattle startup Livemocha.

The company has similar programs going at about 68 library branches, with plans to expand across the country if it meets with success.

“In our extensive work with libraries across the country it’s become apparent that those who carry library cards have a thirst for learning,” said Michael Schutzler, chief executive officer of Livemocha. “We’ve also learned that most people want to learn practical language skills rather than mastery, a goal achieved through frequent practice in small blocks of time with access to native speakers.”

Launched in 2007, Livemocha already boasts an online network of more than 11 million members across the globe. Users of the site. Combining the online learning with the physical locations at public libraries could be a smart move for the company, which landed $5 million from Seattle venture capital firm Maveron and others in July.

UPDATE: One interesting possibility with the library partnerships would be for Livemocha to start hosting in-person language learning classes. Up until now, the company has focused its efforts on online learning. But a spokeswoman for the company said that members of Livemocha already informally get together to learn language skills, but the company has started discussing ways to encourage more formal meetups at physical locations. The library partnership is one possible solution, she said.

Here’s more on the new program, which allows any Seattle Public Library patron to gain free access to Livemocha if they have their library barcode and pin.

Previously on GeekWire: Kindle e-book lending goes national, at 11,000 libraries 

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