Public space, private business

Guilderland Library's ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ tutoring policy; neighboring libraries see less impact

— Public libraries have long ago moved beyond being just a place to grab a book, but one particular use has created some tension at a local library.

Private tutors over the past several years have increasingly relied on public libraries as a space to meet up with students, according to some local library directors. How that use has affected libraries appears to vary depending on the amount of space available and the demand for it.

Guilderland Board of Education members, along with Superintendent Marie Wiles, held their annual meeting on Wednesday, March 26, with representatives from the Guilderland Public Library to discuss how the two entities collaborate with each other. A primary topic discussed was how private tutors using space at the library has led to some issues.

Wiles’ husband, Tim Wiles, is also the director of the Guilderland library.

Marie Wiles said that during the last school year, the district started its “PM school,” because the library was “truly inundated” with tutors working with students who were suspended from school. All of those students needing one-on-one tutoring would come to the library.

“I know it created an issue for (the library), and it was not particularly effective for us, and that had nothing to do with the library,” Wiles said. “It was very hard to get the appropriate work to the kid in time so that he or she could do it. We’d find days and days going by when it just didn’t happen.”

The PM school, which is being held this year at Pine Bush Elementary School, was created to correct the problem, and has proven effective, according to Wiles. She said it is also a cost-effective solution with high school teachers signing up to work with kids at the PM school.

Wiles did acknowledge that it didn’t solve all of the problems.

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