Gratiot County Legal Self-Help Center now open

Residents of Gratiot County have a new legal resource at their disposal: the Gratiot County Legal Self-Help Center – A Michigan Legal Help Partner. This new center has two locations: the Alma Public Library at 500 E Superior St, Alma, MI and the Thompson Home Public Library at 125 W Center St, Ithaca, MI. Both locations offer support, advocacy, referrals, resources, and education to residents of the surrounding area.

The Self-Help Center (SHC) is open to the public during normal library hours. For the Alma Public Library location, this is Mondays, noon to 9 p.m.; Tuesdays to Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays, noon to 9 p.m.; and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For the Thompson Home Public Library location, this is Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are a few changes to the Center’s usual operation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes include: limited occupancy; the Alma Public Library currently has temporary hours of operation of Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and the SHC will not be having a grand opening event at this time.

The Gratiot County Legal Self-Help Center is the twenty-first SHC to open in Michigan Legal Help’s statewide network. Visitors to the center can use the Michigan Legal Help (MLH) website in English ( or Spanish ( to get information about common legal problems. The library staff, called “Navigators,” are trained to help visitors find the resources they need. While Navigators cannot give legal advice, they can answer questions about court practices and processes, help visitors locate and complete the court-approved forms available on the website, and find referrals to lawyers and community service providers. Residents from any nearby county are welcome to use the computers and high-speed internet connection to access the tools and resources on

The Michigan Legal Help Program is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering people to participate in the justice system. This program consists of two major components: the website and the Self-Help Centers located across the state. These centers provide visitors with access to high-speed internet, computers, printers, and help during their hours of operation. Visitors can obtain free information from the MLH website with toolkits that contain articles, answers to common questions, and court-approved forms, all designed to enable them to resolve their legal problems independently. The Do-It-Yourself forms can be filled out online using a simple question-and-answer interview format. The interactive Guide to Legal Help can help visitors look for a lawyer in their area if they need more assistance. It can also provide information about local community services and details about the court where a visitor’s legal issue may be handled.

By clarifying county-specific procedures for filing paperwork properly and providing clear answers to common questions, the SHCs around the state are essential to ensuring access to justice for self-represented litigants. The standardized Do-It-Yourself forms benefit the courts by educating the general public and improving accuracy and efficiency in court proceedings.

Currently, the MLH website has legal information concerning family law; personal safety; housing; money and debt; public assistance; income tax; crime, traffic, and ID; employment; wills and life planning; education; immigration; farmworker issues; going to court; voting and civil rights; and e-Filing. In addition to the statewide network of Self-Help Centers, the Michigan Legal Help Program collaborates with lawyers, court personnel, librarians, community organizations, and volunteers from around the state to help build a strong network of public legal support.

“We’re glad to be welcoming another rural-based self-help center to our network with the addition of the Gratiot Self-Help Center” reported Angela Tripp, director of the Michigan Legal Help Program. “Residents from the area already look to the Alma and Thompson Home Public Libraries for help finding valuable information in many fields; now they can add the civil legal field to that list.”

The Michigan Legal Help Program is funded by the Michigan State Bar Foundation, the Michigan Supreme Court, and through grants from the Legal Services Corporation and others.