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Tonya Ellis: “Reading has kind of been a thread throughout my life.”

Tonya Ellis wears an orange cowl-neck sweater and smiles into the camera.
Becca Newton
/
KBIA

Tonya Ellis spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in February. Tonya’s an educator and coordinator for library services for the Jefferson City School District and said that reading has had a major influence on her life.

She spoke about the importance of access to information and her worries about the latest round of attempts to ban books in schools.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Tonya Ellis: I do have a lot of thoughts about that. I am both alarmed and concerned about that. One of the core values of the library profession is just the right to read and, you know, the right for information and to seek that information and have that available.

So, it is very concerning for me. I know that it's something that's happening not only in public libraries, but honestly – it's happening in school libraries, as well.

As I said, though, it is something that the library profession and librarians really value – to allow readers to seek what they want to find out and that information.

I hope it’s just something as a society in general can work out and work through, along with some other things that our culture is going through, and it’s not going to continue to be something that’s a pressure on public libraries and school libraries.

"It's really the pathway for so many things that have happened in my life. It's been a gateway to how I've been able to pursue my education to get the different professional degrees that I have."
Tonya Ellis

Growing up, my aunt was a very big influence in me on reading, and she is no longer able to come to herself for herself to the library, but she's still an avid reader. So, that's actually what I'm here for today is to – to pick out some books for her.

I keep a spreadsheet list on my phone, so I can see what I've checked out for haven't. And so, I kind of keep her supplied in reading books.

It's really the pathway for so many things that have happened in my life. It's been a gateway to how I've been able to pursue my education to get the different professional degrees that I have.

And then it's been a way that I've been able to establish relationships with other people as a elementary librarian – to introduce students to reading and then now to talk to colleagues and other people about information. So, reading has kind of been a thread throughout my life.

There are many things to like about this library. I love that it's so integrated into our community, and it's just really what I see is one of the hubs that we have in our community for people.

I hope that people in our community recognize the power and impact of libraries and how important they are really to our society.

Like public education, public libraries really offers so many things for people, and that's one of the things that I enjoy most about the library – is just knowing the important place that it has in our community.

Mack Moore is a senior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and is currently working on KBIA's Missouri on Mic.
Becca Newton is a student reporter and producer at KBIA. They will graduate from the University of Missouri in spring 2022 with a degree in Multimedia Convergence Journalism and minors in Peace Studies and History.