One of the ways the BPL fulfills the strategic plan’s Center of Knowledge principle and the accompanying outcome to “Expand adult literacy volunteer and mentor program,” is through the coordination of ESL Conversation Groups across the library system. There are currently 40 volunteer-led, drop-in conversation groups running weekly, giving immigrants and visitors the opportunity to practice speaking English and the chance to develop relationships and network with people who have similar goals and needs. These groups are in high demand and attract several hundred attendees per month. They represent one of the most successful, continually-running programs at the library. The BPL’s Conversation Groups program is also unique in the City of Boston as a whole, where many other agencies and organizations offer literacy programs.
In addition to the ESL Conversation Groups, the BPL also succeeds in reaching the strategic plan’s adult literacy outcome through the provision of the Small Group Mentoring Program. At present, there are 25 groups across the library system (no-more-than 5 students at a time) that meet with volunteer mentors to learn English. Free tutoring sessions like these, tailored to students’ specific needs, are vital to patrons citywide.