Two adult men study a workbook together

Ruth G. Hardman Adult Literacy Service

One in six adults in Tulsa County cannot read the prescription label on a medicine bottle, understand a newspaper article, or enter complete information on an application.

The mission of the Ruth G. Hardman Adult Literacy Services is to promote literacy through adult basic and English language instruction.  

Literacy Services

Become a Learner

We can help you learn to read better. We can also help you speak English better. 

Our learners come from many backgrounds and read at different levels. To become a learner, you will need to take some tests and attend a class for new learners.

If you become a learner in our program, you will meet a tutor once a week at a library. 

This is free and confidential service. The first step is to call the literacy office at 918.549.7400 to sign up.

Become a Tutor

Our service is dependent on our volunteer tutors, who meet one-on-one with students. If you are interested in volunteering with us, please click on the link!

Volunteer To Teach Someone To Read

The Basics

How The Program Works

Volunteers are trained to teach adult learners who want to improve their reading and/or English skills. The volunteers attend a 10-hour training workshop and commit to work in the program for one year. Tutors are then matched with an adult learner and they work together at least once week for one hour at a public place that is mutually convenient (usually a library.)

A Brief History

The library's adult literacy effort began in 1977 as the only Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) affiliate west of the Mississippi River. It was staffed by a librarian who volunteered 10 hours per week to the literacy service. During the 1980s an increasing amount of media and public attention focused on the problem of illiteracy. In 1990 the library hired a full-time literacy coordinator. The program was renamed in honor of benefactor Ruth G. Hardman in 1993.

Current Statistics

Today, the program matches approximately 150 students with approximately 120 volunteer tutors.  In all, more than 3,000 adult students have improved their reading skills through our services.

Student Services

The literacy service provides basic literacy and English language instruction to young adults  (16+) and adults who read at or below a sixth-grade level. English language learners must speak enough conversational English to be matched to an English speaking tutor, and basic literacy learners must be able to help us complete the initial assessment form. We will do our best to provide referrals to appropriate programs for those students who do not qualify for our program.

Every student who requests a tutor must complete an intake interview which includes a reading assessment and background information (helpful in matching volunteers with learners).  New students then complete a student orientation session before being matched to a tutor.

Local Support

The growth of the library's adult literacy service is a direct result of the following community participation:

More than 200 individuals volunteer their time as tutors, trainers, interviewers,  and office staff.

The Raymond and Bessie Kravis Foundation provides contributions for the ELL portion of our program.

The library’s literacy service also partners with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition, and the Learning Disabilities Association of Oklahoma.

We believe the ability to read is critical to personal freedom and the maintenance of a democratic society.


Literacy Facts & Statistics

What Is Literacy?

The  2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) defines literacy as “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”

The 2003 NAAL was a task-based assessment, which used actual texts and documents to measure a person’s literacy level.

Results from the 2003 indicate that approximately 1 in 6 adults in Oklahoma perform at the most basic or below basic literacy levels.

A person functioning at “below basic” literacy would struggle to fill out a job application, read a prescription label, or locate an intersection on a map.

You may read more about the 2003 NAAL, on the National Center for Education Statistics website. The following are helpful links about literacy in Oklahoma:

For additional information about Oklahoma Literacy statistics and links to national literacy fact sheets, visit the Oklahoma Department of Libraries’ Literacy Resource Office webpage.

The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) also has a wealth of information about national literacy statistics, including fact sheets on learning disabilities, health literacy, welfare and literacy, and family literacy.

Learning Diversity

Not surprisingly, we all learn differently.  At the Adult Literacy Service, we try to take into account all of an adult new reader's preferences to help him/her feel comfortable learning.  We have materials and techniques geared to all types of learning styles, and we even have a staff person dedicated to helping tutors and students develop individualized plans around the student's needs, preferences, and goals. 

A learning disability is typically diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with specific training in learning disability assessment. Literacy staff may identify characteristics of learning disabilities, but we cannot diagnose a learning disability. Our staff focuses on teaching to the learner's strengths while accommodating and adapting for challenges. This approach allows both the tutor and adult learner to think creatively about new ways to teach and learn.

For more information contact Jolene White, LD Literacy Specialist, at 918.549.7402.

Learn More About Learning Differences With These Resources:

LD Online is a wonderful resource for facts, definitions, and teaching ideas. Although much of the information focuses on the needs of children with learning disabilities, the educator's section offers tips that can be easily adapted for working with adults.

The Learning Disability Association of America offers information for adult learners about legal rights, workplace accommodations, and social and emotional effects of learning disabilities.

The National Council for Learning Disabilities website contains information specifically for adults with LD. Topics include LD on the job, legal rights, and LD and relationships.

The National Institute for Literacy's fact sheets and statistics on learning disabilities.

Recommended Reads:


Learning Disabilities

Parenting, Discipline, Behavior & Self-Esteem

English Language Learning

Approximately half of the adult learners in our literacy program are English language learners.  Spanish is the native language of about 60% of our English language learners.  However, our students come from all over the globe, including Syria, Taiwan, India, Israel, Korea and Germany.  All English language learners come with the same goal: to be able to understand and fluently speak English.

Small Group Learning Opportunities For English Language Learners

Conversation Circles – a fun and friendly class designed to help students practice their English speaking and listening skills; scheduled periodically – check with the Literacy office for more details. 

Student Book Club – meets monthly; a chance to meet with other students in the program and read and discuss fun books.

Tutor Support

We offer ELL tutors personalized support and help with materials selection for their tutoring sessions.  We also provide continuing education workshops on various techniques and strategies for English language instruction. 

For more information contact Fatima Zehra, ELL Literacy Specialist, at 918.549.7402.

Tulsa County Community Resources for English Language Learners


Digital Literacy

Many adult literacy learners have the goal of improving their basic technology skills. Literacy students can also increase their reading and English speaking skills by using the educational software programs that are available in our Literacy Learning Centers. The Literacy Learning Centers are located at the four regional libraries:

The Learning Centers are available to use during regular library hours.

For more information contact Alisa Brooks, Computer Tutor, at 918.549.7400.