The most viewed collection at the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Robert S. Swanson Library and Learning Center is not what most readers might think. With the amount of research being done at the university, this is not the benchmark or non-fiction section. And as popular as the comics / graphic novels section is, even this one isn’t the most viewed.
In fact, the most viewed section of the college library this fall has surpassed comics, graphic novels, movies, and video games combined.
The answer? Books and media for children in the Educational Materials Center of the library.
Located on the second floor of the library, the EMC was created to support UW-Stout faculty, staff and students within the School of Education programs by providing them with examples of learning resources used. in preschool through secondary education. It offers high-quality, age-appropriate material in its collections of fiction and non-fiction for young people and young adults, hardbacks, puppets, kits, big books and textbooks.
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“Even though the EMC was created for students and teachers of education, it is open to everyone,” said EMC librarian Tanya Gunkel. “It’s a welcoming place for any student who comes to study, or a place you can bring your kids where they can stimulate their love of reading or show off their imagination by creating a puppet show.
“It’s a collection that defies expectations and a place that grows with and thanks to the collaborations that exist within the Stout community. And for those with a little imagination, new possibilities present themselves with the collections.
This fall, Communications Lecturer Mackenzie Krzmarzick brought her Fundamentals of Speech class to the EMC to use the puppet and kit collections in speeches and to learn more about the credibility of speeches. sources.
“Hearing about the fun and exciting EMC resources inspired me to rethink my course to include weekly speech lab sessions,” Krzmarzick said. “My students visit EMC twice during the semester to work on their speech labs, which include a puppet show and hands-on research lab, and to familiarize themselves with the library, in general. Providing a space like this for students to have fun while practicing speaking has been invaluable in reducing their anxiety related to speaking.
Gunkel oversees the EMC collection, finds and orders new items or removes items, often based on feedback from faculty, staff, and students. She also teaches classes, provides research assistance, and presents story hours at the Child and Family Study Center on campus.
Although Gunkel is the only staff member at EMC, she knows she could not be successful without the support and collaboration of her colleagues across the library and across campus.
“Our education partners, from students to professors to our colleagues at CFSC, have a real sense of belonging to the space, knowing how much time, effort and collaboration is required to make the space accessible and relevant, ”she said.
In recent years, the faculty has encouraged the increase of bilingual books, especially as resources for students in internship education or teaching students in various classes. The EMC also supports community requests. “Last year we were asked if we had bilingual Russian material, which we do. We were told we had the only such resources in town, ”Gunkel said.
The EMC has more than 200 bilingual books, representing 25 languages, divided into three sections of the EMC. Languages include Hmong, Spanish, and Ojibwe. Books in Dari and Pashto will be arriving soon, welcoming new arrivals from Afghanistan to Wisconsin.
Gunkel is working to bring all bilingual books together in one area of the EMC.
“The bilingual collection is a work in progress, but having the bilingual books in one collection will improve accessibility and navigation for all,” she said. “When a student comes to pick up a Somali / English book, or a class picks up Spanish / English books for a project, the books would all be in one accessible place.
“These books are valuable because it is important that children see themselves represented in the stories and in the illustrations that accompany them,” Gunkel added. “They allow children and adults to build vocabulary through repetitions, and illustrations help teach words and phrases in context. “
Gunkel is working with the Stout University Foundation to complete the bilingual collection. The EMC is seeking funding through donations to purchase new shelves.
Hosted by the Foundation, donations can be made online or by sending a check to the Stout University Foundation, 320 S. Broadway St., Menomonie, Wisconsin, 54751.
“If people are interested in investing in CME and the future of the community, we appreciate the support,” she said. “Once this project is funded, we will be delighted to share a valuable collection and further promote the library’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
While Gunkel believes EMC is the most colorful and beautiful place on campus, it’s also extremely convenient, she said, with resources being a regular part of the program.
“The EMC is a magical place. When you go up to the second floor, you feel the warmth and vibrancy of the space. Your imagination takes over, ”she said. “It is very appreciated because it is also a place that makes sense, whether you are a 4 year old child looking for a dinosaur puppet, a graduate student looking for a book explaining mourning or a faculty member looking for a new phonetics program. “
Gunkel is constantly looking for ways to improve EMC for users. Last fall, she noticed that students were having trouble finding kits and were confused by the classification system. The collection of kits features hands-on learning materials that teachers use to enhance and support their curriculum, including musical instruments, puzzles, and games.
In the spring, Gunkel created a more usable classification system with input from staff and faculty and recataloged and increased the amount of shelving for the kits.
“This fall, the kits are EMC’s second most viewed collection,” she said. “For me, it’s satisfying to see that a project inspired by increasing accessibility has resulted in a dramatic increase in usage. “
Julie Bates-Maves, professor of clinical mental health counseling, and CFSC director Allison Feller, believe that CME is a phenomenal resource.
“I love taking my students to EMC to show them how using the metaphor in children’s literature can help a client better understand and tell their own story,” said Bates-Maves. “Plus, it’s not just books. Kits and Puppets provide additional tools to help clients through a range of issues and topics.
CFSC staff use the weekly EMC to support the program and activities they teach at the center. “We appreciate the opportunity to use the space for story times, to host STEAM fairs and multicultural celebrations in conjunction with other campus programs,” said Feller.
Recently, library staff and the Office of International Studies collaborated to create an exhibit to celebrate Diwali, a festival of lights celebrated across much of India and other countries in Southeast Asia.
The EMC is also a popular place for student organizations to meet and host events, including the National Art Education Association’s Bob Ross Painting Nights and TableTop Gaming Group Monday Night games.
The Children’s Art Club used to meet weekly at the EMC before the pandemic, but are now holding virtual sessions. “We absolutely hope to find them in the future,” said Gunkel. “We love to share the EMC, and anyone wishing to host a meeting or event here can contact me. “
The UW-Stout School of Education offers seven undergraduate and five master’s degrees, as well as post-baccalaureate educator certifications and online professional development courses.