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SLANSW hosts a number of professional learning events each year at a discounted rate for members. Our regular professional learning program consists of two face-to-face conferences per year (usually held in March and September), as well as monthly online meet-up sessions.

SLANSW also offers professional learning opportunities through partnerships with other professional associations, organisations and and industry events. Previous partners have included Eduwebinar, Syba Academy, Spark Festival, and Brisbane Summit's Capacity Building School Libraries conference.

Please note SLANSW's Cancellation and Refund Policy for Professional Learning Events when registering for conferences and online meet-ups.

Professional Learning Events

    • 18 Sep 2023
    • 9:00 AM
    • 8 Dec 2023
    • 8:00 PM
    • Flexible Blended Learning
    • 73

    Flexible Blended Learning Course 2, 2023

    School Libraries: Improving the Literacy and Wellbeing Outcomes for Young People

    Due to popular demand, the second SLANSW Flexible Blended Learning Course for 2023 will feature the recent work by Dr Margaret Merga. Participants will engage with the content of Dr Merga’s book, which will be supported by recordings of Professional Conversations between Dr Merga and Dr Lyn Hay about the content of the book. Sessions will also include video content only from the restricted section of the SLANSW Professional Learning Archive.  Other supporting resources have been curated to expand participants’ access to content around this very important topic. The cost of this course is $60, which represents outstanding value. All participants of the course will need access to a copy of Dr Merga’s book, School Libraries Supporting Literacy and WellbeingYou can access a hard copy at the State Library of New South Wales onsite, or you can use your National Library of Australia membership details to access an online version ( 

    This course will provide 10 hours of Elective Professional Learning.

    Course structure 

    The course will open on September 18. Participants will work at their own pace to complete the viewing and reading of resources. At the end of Term 4, an optional online meetup will be offered for participants, however attendance at this meetup is not compulsory to achieve the course requirements. Due to the amount of content being offered, the course will remain open until December 8, 2023. Participants will submit a reflection on their learning at the end of the flexible blended learning course. 

    Course Overview

    Session 1

    Introduction and assessment of current services and programs

    Session 2

    The Teacher Librarian as Literacy Educator

    Session 3

    Teacher Librarians Engaging Struggling and Reluctant Readers

    Sessions 4

    School Libraries and Reading Engagement for Wellbeing

    Session 5

    School Library Environments Supporting Students and Staff

    Session 6

    Visibility and Advocacy for School Libraries and Staff

    Session 7

    Analysis and Reflection

    Registrations for this course are now open.

    Reflection Statement from a previous participant

    I thought I had a clear vision for literacy and wellbeing in the library, which I hoped to validate during this course. I anticipated identifying and establishing a quiet yet visible space in the library to house a specific collection of wellbeing supporting resources, made up from varied genres and non-fiction, even including colouring. The space would be identifiable, readily available, yet also a zoned, quiet space, accessible for easy general or covert use. I believed this was needed by both the staff and students due to a higher request for these resources (especially after our long Covid lockdowns), as well as promoting the library as a beloved safe space for at risk students.

    After reading Dr Margaret Merga’s book, completing activities, and watching supplementary videos I now recognize how tunnelled this vison was, being a small (albeit valuable) piece of a much bigger picture. Fortunately, being part of a well-supported, resourced, and beloved school library with an exceptional, widely experienced, visionary library manager many of the 5 identified ways school libraries support wellbeing qualities are already within the fabric of our library. It was not until they were identified and singled out during this course did, I truly appreciate the breadth of their value and impact in both literacy and wellbeing.

    The Teacher Librarian as Literacy Educator

    Throughout the book the role of school librarians was commonly described as: a unique specialist role, supporting teaching staff and students, expert in resources and information provision through “teaching and facilitating learning”. However, I have also found that Dr Merga’s question responses which outlined the globally recognised constant need to defend our workload, job creep, role distortion, and justify staffing, reiterates that we can often be seen as peripheral.

    As reflected in the studies, sometimes TLs are replaced, or partly replaced by librarians for a variety of reasons, which in turn often has an impact on the types of programs that can be offered. E.g. Wider reading programs with a focus on reading for pleasure (RFP) vs the structured “teaching” of reading skills, or a negotiated hybrid of both. Staffing may also affect the feasibility of aiming for an idealist whole-school approach and culture to RFP, which is further hindered by the reality of class availabilities and curriculum demands.

    Teacher Librarians Engaging Struggling and Reluctant Readers

    As Michael Dezuanni presented, we have also found the biggest obstacle for struggling and reluctant readers is finding a book of interest. Especially ones that can compete with global platforms and ‘fanfiction’. However, we have found success by using the students’ expert knowledge of these more recent forms of “publishing” when making collection purchases and having a wider inclusion of reading formats (including electronic and audio books) in our house reading competition have encouraged these readers. We currently survey our year 7s and 8s at the start and end of each year, looking at preferences, reading history, goals etc and conduct regular individual reading conferences to try to ‘match’ boys to their ‘perfect book’, increasing buy in.

    Dianne and James Murphy beautifully stated, there are no silver bullets to ‘fix’ reading problems. However, their suggestion to establish motivation problems vs reading problems, and then zone in on which one of 4 ways will help clarify the appropriate support, so advances can be achieved more readily.

    School Libraries and Reading Engagement for Wellbeing

     Whilst the readings define wellbeing as relating to more than just a lack of physical or mental illness, ‘escaping’ is an informal way to promote wellbeing, and you can reduce anxiety and stress just by removing yourself from a situation and quietly reading a book you enjoy.

    However, I agree with Dr Merga’s conversation response that students think that “reading is for testing”, rather than for pleasure. I now believe that by offering more RFP, appealing promotions, in a comfortable, safe space, this sanctuary of enjoyable experiences, that also accommodates struggling readers and pays attention to what it means to be a reader according to them, will increase positive engagement with reading. As Karen Seeneevassen advised with mental health disproportionately effecting young people, especially middle years, along with Covid casting shadow it is important to build resilience and coping strategies, using Bibliotheraphy, adding diversity codes within collections, and acceptance of digital formats offers more opportunities for students’ access – rather than us trying to “fix” the problem. 

    School Library Environments Supporting Students and Staff

    Although I had briefly heard of Lori Korodaj’s 3rd space concept, with libraries being “not home or a classroom”, before, we have many of these elements currently in place. Our staff are available outside the school day (open 8-4.30pm), unlinked to subjects, where we regularly support those with physical issues such as chronic illnesses. Overall, we provide an alternative learning area for wellbeing, I am proud to say we have seen firsthand how empowering this is for those who are maybe not seen, or seen for the wrong reasons in the general population.  

    Staff and students regularly describe our library as a flexible, adaptive space, used for many purposes, its warm and welcoming, and somewhere they can relax, let their guards down to be themselves. They can be comfortable in secure surroundings, with a sense of belonging, or use it as a sanctuary from weather, anxiety, introvert personalities, sensory issues, challenging days, fall out with friendships, troubles at home as mentioned within the readings. Our library also offers opportunities to develop social skills, and connections in controlled, low risk contexts for those who are not extroverted personalities, academic achievers or highly proficient in sports in a supportive, vibrant, and stimulating space through growing clubs (writing, chill and read, book share, Lego and the recently introduced D & D) as well as passive and parallel activities.

    Visibility and Advocacy for School Libraries and Staff

    While I have always felt the pressure to increase the visibility of libraries I have worked in by offering and doing more, and constantly advocating successes, this relentless strain often becomes overwhelming. I found it validating that the readings also depicted growing universal negative norms such as burgeoning workload, job creep, burn out, greying workforce, low morale, lack of peer understanding and especially deprofessionalisation without disrespecting hard working paraprofessionals. However, I will embrace the approach taken in the professional chat which suggests an alternative to maintain visibility, by changing up what we are doing – not in time or effort – but rather changing the language used Eg library visit = a session of literacy, speaking the language of leadership, and redirecting energies to easier, keen targets to strengthen those relationships as advocates.

    Overall, I have found this course to be reaffirming in many of our library practices, yet eye opening in how valuable these practices truly are to our community, especially the many young people needing libraries as wellbeing supportive spaces where they can read for enjoyment and experience respite from the challenges of daily life. 

    Nickki Mackey

    Librarian  Whitefriars College

    Suggested Standards addressed by this Course

    1.1.2 Use teaching strategies based on knowledge of students’ physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics to improve student learning.

    1.3.2 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.

    2.5.2 Apply knowledge and understanding of effective teaching strategies to support students’ literacy and numeracy achievement.

    3.5.2 Use effective verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student understanding, participation, engagement and achievement.

    6.4.2 Undertake professional learning programs designed to address identified student learning needs.

    Certificate of participation available via request to:

28 Nov 2023 SLANSW Trivia 2023
15 Nov 2023 Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 4 2023
1 Nov 2023 Special Interest Group - Research
17 Oct 2023 Advocacy: Influencing for Impact
19 Sep 2023 Teacher Librarians Engaging with Numeracy (Open Online Forum)
9 Sep 2023 Professional Learning Summit: (9 September 2023)
23 Aug 2023 Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 3 2023
16 Aug 2023 Special Interest Group - Research
25 Jul 2023 CBCA Book Week Ideas 2023
20 Jun 2023 Podcasting for Teacher Librarians
24 May 2023 Special Interest Group - Research
17 May 2023 Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 2 2023
9 May 2023 The School Library's role in including Indigenous Australian Voice in the English Curriculum K-10
1 May 2023 Flexible Blended Learning Course 1, 2023
28 Mar 2023 Collection Development Policies: Creation and implementation
15 Mar 2023 Special Interest Group - Mentoring
4 Mar 2023 Professional Learning Summit: The Strength of Story (4 March 2023)
1 Mar 2023 Special Interest Group - Research
22 Feb 2023 Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 1 2023
14 Feb 2023 Resourcing the Curriculum - Selecting First Nations Resources
13 Dec 2022 SLANSW Trivia 2022
30 Nov 2022 Special Interest Group - Research
22 Nov 2022 Sensational starts: Orientation activities and programs to kick off the new year
16 Nov 2022 Coffee and Chat - Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 4 2022
25 Oct 2022 An Evening with Matthew Lin and Zana Fraillon
17 Oct 2022 Flexible Blended Learning Course 2, 2022
17 Sep 2022 SLANSW AGM 2022
10 Sep 2022 Professional Learning Summit: Information and Innovation (10 September 2022)
9 Aug 2022 An Introduction to the Information Fluency Framework
3 Aug 2022 Special Interest Group - Research
26 Jul 2022 CBCA Book Week Preparation
14 Jun 2022 Library Partnerships – How do you connect with other libraries? (Open Online Forum)
2 Jun 2022 SLANSW Professional Learning Lab - Series 1 2022 - Group 3
1 Jun 2022 Special Interest Group - Research
11 May 2022 Coffee and Chat - Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 2 2022
9 May 2022 Flexible Blended Learning Course 1, 2022
3 May 2022 Reading for Wellbeing: Implementing reading programs to support student wellbeing
6 Apr 2022 Special Interest Group - Research
19 Mar 2022 Professional Learning Summit: Representation Matters (19 March 2022)
9 Mar 2022 Coffee and Chat - Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 1 2022
8 Mar 2022 Escape Rooms and Library Event Programming - How to get started and involve your community.
15 Feb 2022 How do you recommend books to your students?
9 Feb 2022 Special Interest Group - Research
7 Dec 2021 SLANSW Trivia 2021
24 Nov 2021 Special Interest Group - Research "Planning for Action: Evidence-based projects ideas for 2022”
23 Nov 2021 Member Benefits - New offerings and updates
13 Nov 2021 Teaching Civic Online Reasoning: Empowering Students to Sort Fact from Fiction Online with Dr Sarah McGrew (International Speaker Series: 2) Saturday 13 November, 2021 9:00-11:00am
27 Oct 2021 Coffee and Chat - Non-Teaching School Library SIG - Term 4 2021
20 Oct 2021 Special Interest Group - Research "Informing and Reporting on Your Practice"
12 Oct 2021 Developmental Bibliotherapy: What is it and why do our students need it?
15 Sep 2021 Coffee and Chat - Non-Teaching School Library SIG
4 Sep 2021 Professional Learning Summit: Digital Design and Delivery (4 September 2021)
17 Aug 2021 SLANSW Celebrates National Science Week
20 Jul 2021 Brilliant Book Week Ideas! (Open Online Forum)
16 Jun 2021 Meet Your Association - Northern Session
9 Jun 2021 Meet Your Association - Southern Session
5 Jun 2021 Inquiry-based Teaching and Learning: A Re-imagination Journey with Dr Barbara Stripling (International Speaker Series: 1) Saturday 5 June, 2021 9:00-11:00am
2 Jun 2021 Meet Your Association - Western Session
25 May 2021 Inquiry Learning and the Teacher Librarian - the ideal and the reality
27 Apr 2021 Just Read: Developing and implementing a K-12 sustained silent reading program
30 Mar 2021 Spotlight on TL of the Year, Vicki Courtenay
13 Mar 2021 The Laureate and the Literacy Leader: Professional Learning Summit (13 March 2021)
16 Feb 2021 Trialling micro-credentials in a school library setting
1 Dec 2020 TL Trivia
17 Nov 2020 The Best Books of 2020
27 Oct 2020 Practical Preparedness: Dealing with compounding disasters
22 Sep 2020 Lessons from the Library: pitfalls and possibilities (Open Online Forum)
5 Sep 2020 Working for a New Normal with Dr R. David Lankes (International Speaker Series: 4) Saturday, 5 September, 2020 9.00-11.00am
22 Aug 2020 The Post-Pandemic School Library Learning Commons with Anita Brooks Kirkland (International Speaker Series: 3) Saturday, 22 August, 2020 9.00-11.00am
4 Aug 2020 The Inclusion of Australian Multicultural Young Adult Fiction in Secondary School Library Collections
25 Jul 2020 Information Literacy in Reading Fiction with Dr Mary Ann Harlan (International Speaker Series: 2) Saturday, 25 July, 2020 9.00-11.00am
20 Jun 2020 International Speaker Series Professional Learning Package (20 June, 25 July, 22 August & 5 September, 2020)
20 Jun 2020 Young People Living Safe Lives in Online Environments with Dr Ross Todd (International Speaker Series: 1) Saturday, 20 June, 2020 9.00-11.00am
9 Jun 2020 Online Marketplace Meet-up 2
26 May 2020 Graphic novels as texts: “It was harder to teach than I thought.”
5 May 2020 Online Marketplace Meet-up 1
31 Mar 2020 How are you dealing with COVID-19? (Open Online Forum)
24 Mar 2020 The role of the author and poet in making reading matter
7 Mar 2020 Reach Out Through Reading, SLANSW State Library Conference Day (7 March 2020)
25 Feb 2020 The Library as ‘third space’ in your school: Supporting academic and emotional well-being in the school community
26 Nov 2019 Using action research to support professional learning of teachers (Action Research Series)
29 Oct 2019 Kickstarting Action Research in Your School Library (Action Research Series)
19 Oct 2019 Today’s Learners ~ Tomorrow’s Leaders, SLANSW State Library Conference Day
24 Sep 2019 Diverse stories: Developing Year 8 boys to become adventurous readers (Action Research Series)
3 Sep 2019 The power of immigrant stories: Action research at Mazenod (Action Research Series)
27 Aug 2019 Guided Inquiry: Findings and implications from recent research and practice (Action Research Series)

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