Beth Bevars
Education Background: 
BA in Music (SUNY Geneseo); MA in Folk Studies (Western Kentucky University)

What was your professional background before your current position?
Arts administrator; folklorist; Suzuki violin teacher

Describe your current position:
Director of the Lodi Whittier Library & Library Program Director for Teach My Kid to Read

What do you like best about your work?
I love connecting people with the resources they need.

What has been your biggest professional challenge?
I married a career soldier so we have moved many (many) times. I have had to reimagine and restart in every location. I've learned a great deal in each place but it has also made it difficult to have a "career path".

How are you seeing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion play a more prominent role in your work environment?
Librarians and library staff support every single person who walks in our door. I am a firm proponent of the "visible and valuable" theory. Every person deserves to see themselves on the cover of our books and inside the books we offer. I'm most passionately involved in promoting equitable access to resources that help all children learn to read. My daughter Maggie is severely dyslexic and we spent 9 years, many tears and more money than I care to think about getting her appropriate reading instruction. She didn't learn to read until 7th grade. When I became library director in Lodi, it seemed logical to me that libraries could offer resources that would have helped my family. I started bringing in decodable books, parent and teacher resources about structured literacy, hi-lo books and books by or about dyslexics. I'm now supporting 3 school systems, many homeschoolers and have joined Teach My Kid to Read as their Library Program Director to work with other public and school librarians building similar collections. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2022, nearly two-thirds of all 4th graders were reading below grade level. In New York State, the statistics are similar to the nation, with glaring gaps in the Black and Brown communities and children from families with economic disadvantages. Literacy is an issue of equity that libraries are uniquely positioned to address.

What other organizations are you involved with?
Teach My Kid to Read; Backbone Ridge History Group

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?
Ask lots of questions! I have learned more from my fellow directors and other library staff than I could ever have learned on my own. Just this week a neighboring director gave me a new paradigm for our Summer Reading Program. (Thank you Chelsea!!) I love the way we collaborate and learn from each other!

Are there any tips you would like to share that help you get things done?
Well, given that I'm answering these questions at 4am, I may not be the best person to ask. I think my best advice would be to schedule in time for a complete stop. Our work is never done and we must take some time to rest. And I make a lot of lists.

Favorite blog or website:

What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of making a difference in the lives of the children and families who have been served by the resources in the Lodi Literacy Hub and all the collections and Hubs that are popping up in Libraries across the United States and Canada.

What is one thing you would you like to learn?
Just one?! Italian, hammered dulcimer, to quilt and enjoy it (so far these are mutually exclusive in my world)

What are you most looking forward to doing this winter?
My daughter Emily gets married in August. She will be a beautiful bride and I'm a proud Momma! It feels like yesterday I was taking her to a wonderful story time with Miss Libby at the Fountain City Library on the outskirts of Knoxville, TN. Miss Libby wore the best bunny slippers for story time! Last I heard she is still working at the library, still doing story time and still wearing the bunny slippers! Amazing!!

Thank you Beth!
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