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Free homework, career help available through Iowa libraries | The Gazette

Need help writing a resume or preparing for a job interview? Filing for unemployment or getting help with homework.?

That help is available — for free — through Iowa’s public libraries.

All it takes is a library card — the cards are free — to gain access to HelpNow and VetNow by Brainfuse. The sites provide help with homework in core subjects and help in finding a job.

The programs also help students, veterans or those looking for employment or a new career “level up,” said Amber McNamara, with the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

“Every day people are coming to the library looking to access resources,” she said.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library made the programs available in September 2020, thanks to funding from Friends of the Library, McNamara said. The Iowa State Library made programs available last year to all Iowa libraries.

Now, no matter what Iowa library someone walks into, they can find the same “good and strong” resources, McNamara said.

HelpNow and VetNow can be accessed anywhere at any time, McNamara said. Anyone who may need help navigating the resources can get that help at the library.

VetNow also connects veterans with an expert to help them learn about what benefits they can access through Veterans Affairs. The site also connects qualified veterans and their spouses to Iowa businesses with job openings.

Counselors at VetNow walk veterans through the “bureaucratic side” of Veterans Affairs, said Laura Hoover, the sole librarian at the Swisher Community Library.

Homework help

HelpNow offers students homework help in math, reading, writing, science, social studies, skill building and test preparation.

Students can communicate with live, online tutors using an interactive, virtual whiteboard to chat, write, draw and graph homework problems. Free online tutors are available daily from 2 to 11 p.m.

Students also can create their own virtual flashcards to help them study.

An adult learners’ version of HelpNow — the Adult Learning Center — offers help preparing for the Graduate Equivalency Degree and the U.S. citizenship test, as well as Microsoft Office support and career resources.

The program even offers an online chess club, which “saw a ton of use at the height of the pandemic when people were home,” McNamara said.

Blaine Phillips, marketing and community relations specialist at the Marion Public Library, said the program is one example of how a library is “more than a big collection of books.”

Phillips imagined how helpful Brainfuse’s services might have been when he was in school and only had his parents to help him with homework questions.

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when students transitioned between virtual and in-person learning, Brainfuse has been an important resource when learning from home, Phillips said.

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