Libraries – a unique and important part of the literacy sector

Libraries – a unique and important part of the literacy sector

Robert Stewart giving the Colin Mills Presentation

The Hotline recently attended the very successful New South Wales Public Libraries Association conference, SWITCH 2023.  Held in Penrith, Western Sydney, from 14 to 16 November this was the biggest SWITCH conference to date with almost 400 delegates. It was a great opportunity for the Hotline to meet up with the many library staff who provide trusted support around adult literacy. This work is invaluable but often not recognised.

The SWITCH 23 conference included a range of engaging speakers but of particular interest to the Hotline was Robert Stewart’s presentation on Supporting Adult Literacy now and into the future. Rob is a Team Leader Library Programs at Singleton Council and Chair of the NSW Public Libraries Adult Literacy Working Group.

Through the Colin Mills scholarship Rob visited several adult literacy support programs to look at how public libraries can better support adults with unmet literacy needs. These programs included: 26TEN in Tasmania: Read Write Now in WA and Read and Write for Life in the Sunshine Coast.

From these visits and his own experience in setting up an adult literacy tutoring programs in libraries (based on the Reading Writing Hotline’s new course) Rob gave some fascinating insights into the possibilities and success factors with literacy support programs in libraries. These included:

  • Using community volunteer adult literacy tutors is a viable option for supporting a grass roots adult literacy program.
  • Always keep an awareness of the shame and stigma felt by adults struggling with literacy.
  • Seek partnerships with like-minded organisations.
  • Collaborate with, seek support from, and share knowledge with colleagues.
  • Build in opportunities for tutor feedback and ongoing skills development.
  • Be aware of available library spaces. Privacy options are vital.
  • Get outside your walls and tell people about your program. Develop a spiel. Go high profile.
  • Develop a collection in support of tutors and of adults with unmet literacy needs.

If you would like to know more about the work Rob is doing and the insights he gained through his Colin Mills scholarship program you can contact him on [email protected]

If you would like to know more about accessing the Hotline’s new adult literacy tutoring program please call us on 1300 6 55506.