Sterling Heights library highlights tutoring, other services amid pandemic

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 23, 2021

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STERLING HEIGHTS — The Sterling Heights Public Library is open for in-person visits, allowing patrons to browse for items, check out materials and use the computers, printers and more. Renovations are also ongoing. However, there is currently a limit of 25 patrons at a time, due to the coronavirus pandemic.    

But even when the building is at max capacity, it continues to serve the public with a variety of online services, including free one-on-one tutoring for students and adults. Curbside pickup and home delivery services also continue to be available.

The library has launched a yearlong campaign called “Libraries: Your Bridge to the World,” part of an effort to put into perspective the many services available to patrons during the pandemic.

The library continues to offer e-books and audiobooks through its Overdrive service and the Libby e-reader app, both free to use as part of the library’s participation in the Suburban Library Cooperative. Overdrive, available at mic.overdrive.com, allows for streaming books with Wi-Fi or mobile data, or downloading them for offline use.

In addition to promoting its general services with “Libraries: Your Bridge to the World,” the library is also launching a campaign called “Libraries: Your Bridge to Learning,” which highlights the library’s Virtual Library Card program, implemented in many school districts across Macomb County. With it, students can easily access free tutoring and digital reading materials using their school code, student ID and assigned PIN.

Among the learning resources is tutor.com/suburban, where students and their parents can connect with one of more than 3,000 tutors, each fully vetted and background checked. The tutor is individualized to the student’s needs, from remedial to advanced levels, assisting with homework and test preparation, with assistance available for K-12, college students and adult learners.

The tutors focus on conceptual learning and critical thinking rather than simply quick answers. The tutors are available in more than 60 subject areas, from noon to midnight each day.

The library said that a survey of past participants showed 95% of students who used tutor.com indicating it helped them complete their homework and improve their grades, while 97% felt more confident in their learning.

“Students, and even adults who have completed their education, can submit any sort of document for expert assistance,” Jason Groth, the public relations and programs coordinator for the Sterling Heights Public Library, said in an email. “Not only does this include assignments like essays, it also includes résumés and cover letters for job seekers. It’s a fantastic way for just about anyone to get expert proofreading and one-on-one assistance.”

Other tutoring services include The Princeton Review, which provides test preparation and practice for the ACT, the SAT and graduate school entrance exams, as well as WriterTutor Reviews and video lessons for Advanced Placement courses.

Officials say there has been a spike in online activity since the onset of COVID-19.

“There was a marked increase in use of electronic materials as the pandemic rolled on,” Groth said. “Our electronic collection saw a just over 50% increase from the beginning of the pandemic to the fall. Tutor.com saw even higher gains. The number of sessions had an over 700% increase in that same time period.”

Another point of attraction is the Mango Languages service available for free online through the library. The language-learning software offers access both to foreign language courses and English as a second language courses taught in the user’s native tongue. There are also literacy kits that users, including young children, can take home to learn a language.

For those feeling crafty, the library offers free access to Creativebug, an online service that provides videos, workshops and other resources for arts and crafts at home. Patrons can learn how to paint, knit, crochet, sew, screen print and more.

“Now more than ever, we need access to community resources, so libraries shifted into high gear and began getting creative on how to continue serving their patrons’ needs,” Tammy Turgeon, the library director and the director of the Suburban Library Cooperative, said in a statement. “We need to be there for them.”

The Sterling Heights Public Library, located at 40255 Dodge Park Road, is open 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 1-5 p.m. Fridays, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. The lobby is currently closed, with a temporary entrance set up to the right of the main entrance, along the glass walls. For more information, call (586) 446-2665.

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