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Bedford Elementary Librarians: Don’t Close The Book On Us

Bedford school district librarians Rina Baldo, left, Victoria Bradley, Lesley Levine, Susan Polos, Nancy Brown, Tom Carrigan, Simone Loeffel and Susan Ackerman-Leibowitz stood before the school board at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
Bedford school district librarians Rina Baldo, left, Victoria Bradley, Lesley Levine, Susan Polos, Nancy Brown, Tom Carrigan, Simone Loeffel and Susan Ackerman-Leibowitz stood before the school board at Wednesday night’s school board meeting. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella

BEDFORD, N.Y. – In an emotional response to last week's preliminary budget — which would cut more than 30 Bedford Central School District positions — eight district librarians spoke out at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.

“I am speaking for the district school librarians tonight in response to the news that the preliminary budget has proposed cutting four of five elementary school library positions,” Mount Kisco Elementary School library media specialist Susan Polos said.

Polos stood in front of the school board, with seven of her peers standing behind her, as she addressed her concerns with the cuts.

“We respect our district leadership and know that tough decisions must be made,” she said. “Nevertheless, there are consequences to decisions, and the consequences of cutting elementary school librarians, which has not happened in any neighboring district, is almost unthinkable.”

When looking at teacher cuts at last week’s preliminary budget hearing, the logic of technology lowering the demand for librarians was discussed. Polos shot down this reasoning, pointing out that technology does not always provide accurate knowledge, especially for many elementary students who are just learning to decipher information sources.

Students need librarians to teach them the research process — to dig below the surface of the most common search engines, she said.

“Google may help students find information on the limited segment of the Internet that it actually does search, but then what?” said Polos. “Google won’t decide if the information is relevant, biased or authoritative, or help students organize the information.”

With the budget in its preliminary stage, cuts can still be changed. The district has “a little bit a wiggle room” to look at some cuts more closely, Superintendent Jere Hochman said last week, encouraging public feedback on the plan.

The district’s librarians took him up on his offer.

“School librarians are critical characters in Beford’s own story. As careful stewards, please know that in the next chapters written is the future of our children,” said Polos. “Please don’t close the book on the elementary school library program.”

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