Guilderland Library expanding adult literacy partnership

Need for tutors greater than ever; group searchers for new volunteers

For many nonprofits these days, finding money for programming is a difficult task.

At Literacy New York-Greater Capital Region, that task has become a bit less pressing with a nearly $28,000 grant from the New York State Library to the Guilderland Public Library. There, Literacy NY is embarking on a round of programming that is hoped to bolster adult literacy rates in the areathey just need some extra help.

The group is just starting a new round of group classes at the library, and they need volunteer tutors. One of the ways Literacy NY makes its dollars go a long way is to use volunteer labor to teach its c lasses.

Guilderland was one of 11 libraries statewide to be awarded a grant to support adult literacy. The Team Up for Literacy" funds are now arriving at the library.

The partnership between the Guilderland Library and Literacy NY has been going on for more than 10 years, said Adult Services Librarian Maria Buhl, and it has increasingly been more useful to the community as Guilderland's demographics have change.

"Our efforts began in earnest after research of Census data, and our own observations at the library, showed that there was a significant increase in the number of Guilderland residents whose first language was not English," Buhl said. "We recognized that this part of our community needed our services."

Literacy NY's mission does not only involve English as a second language courses, but also helping adults working towards their GED. Immigrants will oftentimes need a good knowledge of English to obtain citizenship, said the group's Greater Capital Region Associate Director Sue Hensley-Cushing.

"There's a huge demand," she said. "We never advertise for students, students find us."

That's certainly true at the Guilderland Library, where over 75 people have volunteered to be tutors over the years. The "Team Up for Literacy" grant will hopefully increase that number even more, and also impact more people in need of the services by putting them in front of small groups rather than holding one-on-one tutoring.

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