Summary of Tutoring Policies Inquiry
(compiled by Ann Wirtanen, Director
Winchester Public Library)
Overwhelmingly, libraries acknowledged their role as an “educational center” and see tutoring relating to their mission as a partner in life-long learning. Judging from the large number of libraries with carefully scripted policies concerning tutoring, it is clear that tutoring at a public library is an issue with advocates on both sides.
The Basic Problem
Libraries typically allow use of meeting space by non-profit organizations. Clearly tutors are getting paid for their service. This is the common complaint. However, we have successfully attracted the home-based business owner into our facilities. We provide WiFi, internet access, quiet work areas, wireless printing, scanning and sometimes faxing. Business owners are clearly making money at what they do. We also don’t police internet users who may be selling an item on eBay. Many libraries acknowledged this quandary and choose to allow tutoring even though a payment is clearly being rendered for a service.
It is also difficult to identify tutors from simply kind and generous interested parents helping students free of charge. Most ESL and basic literacy tutors are volunteers and are not paid. Students on probation often receive school-funded tutoring but cannot meet at the school.
Libraries charging tutors for use of meeting space are very few. One library charges $5 per session. Another charges $75 for 3 hours of use of the meeting room and imposes this fee on tutors as well.
This is the largest variable in the discussion. Some libraries have private study rooms and some have large meeting rooms equipped with numerous tables. Depending on available space, some libraries restrict tutors to certain areas. Some limit the time tutors can use a certain space. Some allow reservations for private study rooms one month in advance, yet others limit reservations to one day in advance – depending on whether they want to encourage use by tutors or discourage use by tutors.