This interview was conducted at a public library. I talked with a volunteer tutor about her thoughts on tutoring English to English Language Learners in the library environment.
DD: Would you like to see the public library help develop this program? Do you think there is a need for that?
EB: Not to start with, we’re not getting enough numbers, and like I said earlier the number varies per week. The library asks on their website for people to register, but then I don’t know who has registered, I’m just the tutor.
There is a woman who is our liaison at the library, a reference librarian, but I don’t know what her job description is. She is the one who reserves the room for us.
DD: If the library could help, what are some ways you see the program expanding? Do you think it can, or do you think this is sufficient for what your goals are? Isn’t this city one of the most diverse cities in Michigan besides Ann Arbor?
EB: A couple things I would say influence that. To the best of my knowledge, this library went through a difficult financial period. They had this Talk Time program, apparently, and had to end it because they had that situation. They started it back up again in 2011, which is when I started.
Another thing, as you can see, we have limited space in this library for any groups of any kind. This room is available probably 7/8ths of the time, but the larger room is not. These are the only two meeting rooms as far as I know in the library. I think we had about 16 or 17 in this room the last time I was here, and it was hot and there was not enough air circulation. Any expansion of the program would be limited due to the space and money. They do advertise the program though, we’ll go around the room and everyone can explain how they found us.
Student: I was introduced by my friends. My family and I arrived in 2012 and we came in here to get a library card. Before that we did not know there was a Talk Time, so when I just talked the librarian to register she said I could just come in.
Student: I found out from the website.
Student: My husband found the website.
Student: My sister.
EB: Okay, well that gives you some idea. And again, a lot is based on the money that is available. Sometimes they print out a lot of flyers, and they distribute them to the areas where they might post one, you know, probably churches and schools maybe, anywhere there might be some community interest. Cultural groups have meeting places sometimes and they might put up posters in situations such as that, or a meeting place.
There is a literacy program sponsored by Oakland County, and they’re headquartered off of Telegraph Road, just north of Square Lake Road. They arrange tutoring on a one-to-one basis for the most part I think, I’m no expert in the program. I do believe they themselves have sponsored other locations, or individuals who’ve been in the program start one. So, several churches in the area have similar programs as well as the community center and they have them at different times of day on different days of the week.