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Reading Time: 2 minutes

by Matthew Braga

Call me old school, but I remember a time when people actually read for pleasure.

Hard to believe, I know. But that was reality — students working towards philosophy degrees and teaching themselves nuclear physics on the side.

Alas, this practice of “external learning” has fallen by the wayside, replaced by things like Halo and Lady Gaga. But like all things in life, technology is here to help. With a little digital know-how, you’ll be creating fission from household objects in no time.

The secret ingredient in this intellectual recipe is the Ryerson Library. Not the stuffy monolith that inhabits the northeast campus corner, mind you, but the fancy digital catalogue that exists online. Chances are you’ve been there, most likely coerced by your professor. But hidden behind the engineering dissertations and toxicology reports is a treasure trove of pure, unfiltered knowledge.

I’m going to assume you know nothing about web design. You couldn’t tell an HTML from an ODB. Cascading Sheet Style is like trying to read French, albeit less humorous, and you barely made your way through WordPress 101. On the Ryerson Library’s website, there is an e-book for each.

Enter a search term on the catalogue home page, and delight in your newfound skills. There are hundreds of books available to read online, indicated by a tiny yellow e-book icon beside them. You won’t even need to leave the house. For both the lazy and knowledge-hungry amongst you, this is a big deal.

Want to know the finer points of cartilage repair by the fireplace? There’s an e-book for that. Have a hankering for infrared-to-baseband algorithms over dinner? There’s an e-book for that too. Want to teach a robot how to love? Sadly, nothing can help you there.

But robotic relationships aside, digitizing our knowledge into e-book form is, thus far, one of the Internet’s finest accomplishments.

Searching entire textbooks via keyword is more useful than an index could ever be. The ability to read five JavaScript textbooks at once — and thusly, learn five times as fast — is now easier than ever. And like a lost, internet-dependant puppy, these books will follow you wherever you go.

If you were ever hoping to indulge your secret loves of analysis and therapy, now’s the time to do it. There’s a world of e-books out there you probably didn’t know about. So go learn something — Master Chief will still be waiting for you when you’re done.

Have tech questions? Email Matt at

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