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Workshop sessions

In 2011, SLQ launched the framework Libraries for Literacy: every day, every way: 2011 - 2014 (PDF 860 KB), which outlines the essential roles that libraries have in delivering literacy programs in communities across Queensland. The framework provided a guide for the development of community-centred literacy services delivered in partnership with Queensland public libraries, state and local government and relevant literacy providers. The 2012-13 Annual Progress Report (PDF 403 KB) identifies the framework’s achievements to date.

On 29 July 2014 a workshop was held to review the framework and identify a new way forward. The focus of the workshop was to seek the input of literacy and public library experts on the future of literacy in public libraries. The workshop included a series of round table discussions on how public libraries provide literacy services, what gaps needed addressing, and data, measurement and reporting — with particular a focus on adult literacy.

This page provides access to video, presentations and summary notes from the event.

Table of contents


Welcome to Workshop

Judith McLean profile — Facilitator

Judith provided an Acknowledgment of Country, stating: “I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land – the Turrbul [TOO-RABULL] people and pay respects to their ancestors who came before them. The location of State Library, on Kurilpa Point, was historically a significant meeting, gathering and sharing place for Aboriginal people. We proudly continue that tradition here today”.


Presentation — Libraries for Literacy review process

Jane Cowell profile
Jane Cowell — Libraries For Literacy Framework Review video
Libraries For Literacy Framework Review PowerPoint (PPT 3.1 MB)

Jane Cowell at the Literacy Workshop 2014.

Key messages:

  • The role of today’s workshop is to provide SLQ with your knowledge ad ideas to inform the Libraries  for Literacy 2011-14 review process.
  • The Framework was designed to support and guide the ongoing development and delivery of literacy services for SLQ, public libraries and literacy providers. The Framework was supported by a project report that outlined the evidence base underpinning the Framework and informed  further development of library-based literacy and learning programs.
  • The guiding  principles of the Framework are to be: equitable and inclusive; community-centred; collaborative; and sustainable.
  • The goals of the Framework are to: advocate greater understanding of reading to children; evaluate the role SLQ and public libraries in providing literacy support; raise awareness of SLQ and public library network’s value and capacity when addressing literacy issues; and build collaborative relationships across many sectors to extend the reach of literacy improvement opportunities.
  • Priorities for action from the Framework are: social disadvantage; family literacy; digital literacy; effective workforce; advocacy; and collaboration.
  • SLQ’s role in literacy: build capacity; advocate to government; disseminate information; advocate for collaboration; models of good governance; and showcase effective models.
  • Achievements to date: increases in the number of family literacy programs hosted by public libraries; and increase in the number of embedded literacy goals in library planning documents.
  • The review process  has involved both internal and external working groups, including public libraries, literacy service providers and advocates, government agencies and non-government peak bodies and agencies.
  • The review has  identified the following in the Framework:
    • Strengths: first of its kind; advocating tool; support for funding applications; performance measures; ease of use and clear definitions
    • Weaknesses: lack of ownership of the document; too much information embedded in the documents; and repetition between principles, goals and priorities
    • Opportunities: align with new national and state documents and programs; address target groups that are missing; improve  measurements and data collection
    • Threats: changing funding for literacy; Registered Training Organisation (RTO) requirements for compliance; adult literacy is different to child or family literacy and is perceived to get funding and participants
  • The internal and external working groups have suggested that the principles remain the same, but the goals, priorities and evaluation sections need to be reviewed.


Workshop stations

Lesley Acres at SLQ Libraries for Literacy Workshop 2014

  • Question A (Tables 1 and 2) - How do we do it now: Conscious Competence.
  • Question B (Tables 2 and 3) - What do we do: Designing programming that achieves literacy outcomes.
  • Question C (Tables 4 and 5) - How do we record what we do: data, measurement, reporting and evaluation.

Key messages:

  • Participants were invited to select a table; and encouraged to sit as a mix of different people from different organisations at each table.
  • The Facilitator indicated that the process would cover three important questions with a half hour for each, and that an SLQ staff member would note down discussion points at each table.
  • Participants were invited to move after each question, or to stay at the one table if they preferred.


Whole group discussion — Implementation and ideas

Judith McLean — Workshop group discussion video

Question A — How do we do it now: Conscious Competence

What do we do wellWhat could we do betterIdeas for 2015 and beyond
  • Consciously competent with regard to child and family literacy
  • Identifying goals, linking them to social measures
  • Reporting activity compared with reporting outcomes
  • Libraries and librarians know what we do
  • Responding well to those who currently receive a library service
  • With Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) we deliver our programs in line with Council of  Australian Governments (COAG) benchmarks
  • The magic of informal story time and gathering
  • Small councils have informal connections but don't necessarily have the skills to know how to develop adult literacy programs — they are currently unconsciously competent
  • Some great local success stories:
    • Woorabinda identifying partnerships in the hope of attracting funding
    • Mission Australia (MA) partnership at Oakey a new meeting room and community hub for MA clients and the public to deliver and accredited job readiness program
    • Logan English Conversation and Women's groups
  • Develop conscious  competence regarding adult literacy (even though the skills are similar to child and family literacy)
  • Some adult literacy programs done by volunteers and staff who don't have necessary skills
  • Outsiders don't know what libraries and librarians do
  • We need to outreach to those who currently don’t receive a library service or bring them in
  • Need to be  consciously competent to our councils — including that it is alright to measure activity in some cases as the ‘productive workforce’ is 20 years away
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be understood by staff and align new ideas to strategic direction
  • Acknowledging that just because you have this many baby rhyme time sessions, doesn't mean you've raised literacy
  • Giving staff adequate preparation time — they are early literacy deliverers
  • Understanding that literacy is an outcome not a process
  • Good working relationships can disintegrate when  key community people leave
  • A fuller understanding about different literacies
  • Librarians develop  more of the ‘hard’ skills (e.g.: competency based training) to complement ‘soft’ skills (e.g.: community access programs)
  • Take the opportunity to fill the gap left by funding cuts to some TAFE and adult literacy services
  • Link the Framework to outcomes not activities and make it more externally focused
  • Benchmarks for literacy outcomes for public programs
  • Make use of collateral already prepared by literacy experts (e.g.: Smith Family) for staff to deliver
  • The early literacy framework is quite comprehensive — one for adult literacy would be good
  • Provide more literacy professional development and training — could be modular and online for people  to self-pace
  • Partnerships, particularly in smaller communities (e.g.: training and support using existing  resources
  • Build strategic ability, including staff awareness of strategic alignment and the literacy industry
  • Formalise partnerships with Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs)
  • Specific, certified training courses for staff
  • Develop a framework/model for staff to implement and commit to an action plan
  • Articulating learning outcomes to support staff who may not be literacy experts
  • Print literacy is fundamental to everything else

Question B - What we do: Designing programming that achieves literacy outcomes

What do we do wellWhat could we do betterIdeas for 2015 and beyond
  • Better beginnings – family literacy leads to adult literacy
  • Ensuring we achieve literacy outcomes embedded within our programs
  • Acknowledging that parents are key to successful engagement with children
  • Not assuming we know better – we listen to people about what they want.
  • Providing community spaces — people are comfortable with them, ambiance, knowledge of library as safe space
  • Co-location of library  and council service centres to pay bill gets a return patron
  • Conversation classes for refugees and people with low English language skills – the benefits of bonding
  • Selecting appropriate staff for one on ones and group sessions the role to identify what skill they need
  • Some great local success stories:
    • Gold Coast Libraries’ ‘Pop-up’ library on the beach front
    • Social connect ness — Gold Coast Libraries use four headings — literacy, health and well-being, learning social connectedness, digital literacy
  • Preaching to the converted is easy, but how do we identify the gaps
  • Can’t assume that it is only lower socio economic groups impacted by low literacy
  • Make connections in ways that are relevant to individuals to ensure buy-in
  • Better awareness of what digital literacy programming is taking place
  • Libraries are victims of their own success — need to identify what is out of scope and let go of the non-essential
  • Coordinating family visits with opportunities such as English conversation within library
  • Applying our emotional intelligence (e.g.: some clients digitally literate, yet choose not to  interact with library staff or other clients)
  • Concern in loss of play based learning, as public libraries are the few places that still offer
  • Develop a leadership model to facilitate best fit for job — catalyst for having best people for job
  • Learn from good practice ideas already underway (e.g.: Gold Coast Libraries ‘Great ‘Start’ early top years collaborative program) and promote ‘hero’ experiences
  • Get library programs out of the library (eg: Storytime in doctor surgery; literacy in prisons) and create programs tailored to specific needs and groups
  • Better utilise mobile  libraries — potential to initiate pop up libraries in more places
  • Collaborative programming to break down barriers (eg: work across community hubs, to link  with newly arrived communities; job-skills programs)
  • Community champions who know where need is and can be advocates for linking to library
  • Bridge the gaps to  build skills (e.g.: school leavers, young people who are parenting, people around 35 years of age, seniors who missed computer literacy skills)
  • Consider becoming a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)
  • A simpler definition of literacy
  • Build outcomes into programs based on community needs
  • Novelties to get people into the library (e.g.: attractive library cards; loyalty stamps)
  • Longitudinal studies to create evidence based programming
  • Social media to reach children and young people
  • Lifestyle classes to  reach different audiences and foster partnerships with others
  • Focus on specific areas (e.g.: employment) to disguise literacy programs

Question C - How do we record what we do: Data, measurement, reporting and evaluation

What do we do wellWhat could we do betterIdeas for 2015 and beyond
  • Keeping data regarding family literacy programs
  • Establishing maximum class sizes for job readiness programs
  • Collecting one on one data
  • Understanding what we are collecting and for what outcomes
  • Understanding who the audience is and who we are reporting to (e.g.: Council)
  • Understanding how we convey outcomes to the public
  • Programming data beyond the number of attendees and number of programs
  • Knowledge of the range of data sources available
  • Using statistics to see areas of greatest need
  • Getting information into school newsletters
  • Capture data that libraries are increasingly doing that is not traditionally recognised as their role
  • Utilise existing data for the best purposes — build advocacy through narrative and participants  stories as it gets the emotional connection
  • Use good technology to gather evaluation data
  • Clear quantifiable measures aligned with national and state agendas
  • Develop productivity outcomes data to articulate transformative outcomes
  • Clearly express who the audience is and make the goals more external and outcomes focused (e.g.: industry goals, ABS measures
  • Better ways to report qualitative data across diverse areas (e.g.: economic benefit and return)
  • Collaborate to develop a strategic approach to data reporting (e.g.: community reference group)
  • Showcase through Public Libraries Connect
  • Improve data collected through the annual library outcomes reports to SLQ


Key documents

Last updated
10th January 2017