This month, the Columbus Metropolitan Library will open four new homework help centers at its Gahanna, Whetstone, Driving Park and Southeast branches. The additions, library spokeswoman Kim Snell said, bring the total number of centers offered at the library's 20 branches to 15. Eventually, Snell said, the library will have homework help centers in every branch.

This month, the Columbus Metropolitan Library will open four new homework help centers at its Gahanna, Whetstone, Driving Park and Southeast branches. The additions, library spokeswoman Kim Snell said, bring the total number of centers offered at the library's 20 branches to 15. Eventually, Snell said, the library will have homework help centers in every branch.

Each center is staffed by a library employee and volunteers who can help students with assignments. In addition, each is stocked with the text books used by the schools in the area it serves. Computers and a supply of materials (including construction paper, scissors, glue and more) are available free of charge.

"Homework can be stressful, not just for kids but their parents," Snell said. "We try to take some of that stress away from everybody. This is an opportunity and resource for kids to be able to get homework done in a more timely fashion. It's hard for parents to come home from a hard day's work and sit down with a child who is perhaps learning subjects differently than they learned them," Snell added. Each of the homework help centers is open Monday through Thursday for three hours a day. Specific hours of operation vary from branch to branch and are set based on demand from the community, Snell said.

In addition to help offered in the libraries, parents and students can turn to the organization's Internet site for homework help: kids.columbuslibrary.org. From there, students and parents can find directions for calling a librarian on the phone, e-mailing a question or having an on-line chat--24 hours a day. There also are links to a variety of resources and reference materials for students to use. There is even a spot for a "study break."

In addition to online help and adding four help centers, this year the library remodeled and expanded its center at the Northern Lights branch. Last year, the library opened seven centers. "They are very popular and that's why we keep expanding them," Snell said. "We just keep getting more demand."