Monica Treptow on literacy and resources in school libraries

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction school library media consultant Monica Treptow describes how educators serve multiple needs of K-12 students through collections of books and other media.

By Nathan Denzin | Here & Now

April 16, 2024

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Monica Treptow:
I would say at the core of this is our students. And our libraries are that unique resource for students. We provide multiple resources. You know, "voice and choice" is a common phrase, and it is truly where every student in the school should be able to find something to read that meets their academic needs, their social-emotional needs, their interests. And by pulling books out of collections, we're not able to be as inclusive as we want to be. So ultimately, we want our libraries to be that inclusive space for all of our students to be able to find the resources that they need. That does not mean that every resource is for every student, and we know that. But again, that opportunity to make those selections, to use their own voice to make those selections, and also to learn what it means to change their minds, right? What it means to pick up a book and realize, hmm, this book isn't for me, and be able to put it down. That's a skill set that transfers into media literacy and information literacy moving forward, where when the phone's in front of them and they're in some other resource making that same decision, knowing that they can change, knowing that they can make a different decision. That stems from what we teach them in the library.

Nathan Denzin:
Sorry to do this, but I got one more now that came off of this, while we got you here. It is, you know, in my opinion, it's pretty obvious why taking down, say, an LGBTQ bookstand would be harmful to LGBTQ people, right? Can you explain what kind of harm it might do to other, especially students, to the other students who might not be particularly impacted by that niche?

Monica Treptow:
I think they all are, right? Because it's not just a student who may be marginalized in some way who benefits from seeing that book about themselves, because to them, it's a mirror, right? But to the other students, it's the window, right? There's the "windows and mirrors and sliding glass doors," which is a famous quote from Bishop. And we develop empathy through reading about others. And so no matter who you are, whatever books you pick up, that helps you develop that sense of empathy.

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