Bladen County Library’s “wow factor” assists students with free online tutoring

By Chrysta Carroll -


ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Library, in search of the “wow factor,” may have found it. In August, the library rolled out two new online help services through brainfuse (sic) called HelpNow and JobNow.

HelpNow allows users access to live tutors who will interact with students to help with virtually any subject, as well as with test preparation. Students can get real-time help in any K-12 level of math, science, reading, writing, or social studies. Test preparation is also available for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, AP and state standardized tests.

The tutoring site doesn’t stop at K-12 academics, though.

“The Adult Learning Center has some good content for people working on their GED, and it has a citizenship test, as well as Microsoft Office help,” said Kelcey Edwards, Bladen County Library director.

Unlike other online tutoring services, HelpNow allows users the practical capability to present their problem to interactive tutors. Many other sites utilize tutoring videos, but to use them, the student must first know the operation with which he or she needs help and search for videos on the topic.

However, if students have word problems and do not know, for example, that they need to start by squaring both sides of the equation, such sites offer no help. Utilizing HelpNow, students can show the live tutor the problem, and the tutor will walk them through what they need to do.

“You’re able to get specific help where you need it,” said Edwards. “The tutors aren’t just trying to help users solve a problem. They’re interested in helping them learn, acquire knowledge, and understand the subject.”

In the Writing Lab, students are able to submit a paper up to 1.4 megabytes (one megabyte is roughly 250 pages of single-spaced, plain text formatting) and receive constructive feedback within 24 hours.

Other library online tutoring services are limited in the number of sessions allowable per month, but Bladen County Library chose brainfuse because, for a flat fee paid by the library, users are allowed unlimited sessions. The only requirement is an active library card.

“I just think it’s great that if you’re having trouble, you can go online and be able to interact with a live tutor,” said Edwards. “Usually, it costs to have a tutor, and I’m glad that we can provide a service for students who might not be able to afford help any other way.”

JobNow, the employment-help service of brainfuse, offers job interview coaching, which allows users to interact with a live trained job coach to practice interview skills. In the Resumè Lab, similar to the Writing Lab, experts will review resumès and provide feedback, and users can utilize templates to create the all-important first impression. Additionally, career assessments and help finding jobs are available.

“I hope both of theses services are able to help the community,” said Edwards. “I’d love to see kids do better in school and also help the community find and get jobs.”

She added, “The library really does have things to offer that will help improve people’s lives.”

The live tutoring and interview coaching of JobNow and HelpNow are available seven days a week from 2 to 11 p.m., excluding some days around holidays. All services can be found on the library’s website,

Chrysta Carroll can be found by calling 910-862-4163.


By Chrysta Carroll

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