Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Facing the Page

The Volunteer Experience at The New York Public Library's Centers for Reading and Writing (CRW)


First — a phone call or an Internet visit to This starts the process for registering to be a volunteer tutor at the Centers for Reading and Writing (CRW) at The New York Public Library. The process continues with a scheduled visit to one of the eight CRW sites located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. A Site Advisor or Literacy Assistant then conducts a crucial interview that helps determine whether or not one qualifies for volunteer tutor training.

Literacy Education Specialist Decklan Fox with Tutor Trainees Fall 2011Literacy Education Specialist Decklan Fox with Tutor Trainees Fall 2011Volunteer tutors are required to committ to one nine-to-12-month cycle or two 10-week cycles at a CRW site, for two to four hours per week. This commitment involves tutoring adults, who read up to a 6th grade level as determined by The Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), in a small group setting. Oh, how difficult, some may say. But wait, there is a comprehensive two week centralized volunteer tutor training conducted for qualified candidates. The two week centralized tutor training is conducted by the Library's Literacy Education Specialist, Decklan Fox. Trainees meet at a CRW site twice per week, from 1 to 3 p.m. or 6 to 8 p.m., for two weeks of training.

Additionally, volunteers being prepared for assignments with students at the lowest literacy level are given an additional two sessions of low level literacy training. The lower level sessions are conducted by the three CRW Literacy Specialists, Christine Debush; Danica Draper; and Decklan Fox. All of the CRW professional staff are trained and capable of conducting the tutor training. In fact, if volunteer tutor training candidates are available before or after the scheduled centralized training sessions (September and January of each year), they are trained at the site of their successful interview and sent to centralized training when the scheduled dates occur.

“There are just so many aspects to reading that we take for granted when we have learned sequentially at a young age. We really have to re-learn this whole process of learning to read in order to be an effective teacher. I think I will not take for granted the joy of reading any more!”

Words of wisdom from one of our successful volunteer tutors.

The strategies that trainees are taught are proven to lead Adult Basic Education (ABE) students to successfully achieve their goals while improving their reading and writing in a very supportive educational environment.

The most recent centralized tutor training prepared a total of 27 volunteers to lead literacy groups at their chosen center. After the upfront training, successful volunteers return to their centers with a solid knowledge base and added confidence. Site professionals provide support and guidance throughout the volunteer experience. The rewards of volunteerism are immeasurable. The benefits range from increased self confidence to a sense of giving back to one’s community. Why not volunteer at the Library's Centerd for Reading and Writing today?


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Tutor Training

Decklan Fox's 2 week centralized training experience gives our volunteers just a taste of their new experience. Once back at our Centers, tutors build skills and a comfort level working with adult literacy students. Some volunteers work alone right away leading a small group; others work as assistants to more experienced tutors; some prefer working 1:1 with individual students and others specialize in a specific area: creative writing or poetry, for example! There's room for all individuals who want to bring reading and writing enjoyment to our adult learners. Contact one of the CRW's for more information!!

Tutor training

Good job as usual Decklan. You do CRW proud. Thanks.

tutor training

I certainly learned many useful things at the training, several of which I put into action immediately. But I think I needed a clearer road map for how to get started - some sample lesson plans, and specific suggestions for planning. I did still feel I was going to be making it up as I go along.

Message to Anonymous

This is where the CRW Site staff comes in. After you go back to your site it is the responsibility of professionals at the site to guide you in the right direction. The upfront training is just gives you a beginning, then the middle and the end has to be added for maximum effect.

Post new comment