Takeda makes plea to restore librarian positions and creates website

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon's 2012 District Librarian of the Year, Jenny Takeda, urges Beaverton School District leaders to restore certified librarian positions in schools.In the wake of $37 million in budget cuts, Beaverton School District board members by now have heard all manner of grumbling, sad stories and heartfelt pleas regarding the 340 or so positions it’s been forced to cut.

On Monday evening, board members heard yet another twist on the theme as the state’s 2012 District Librarian of the Year addressed them as a former librarian now serving as substitute teacher.

The board at its monthly meeting recognized Jenny Takeda — who served for nine years as the district’s coordinating librarian — for the Oregon Association of School Libraries award she accepted at an Oct. 13 ceremony in Seaside.

Greeted by vigorous cheering and applause from audience members on Monday, the 14-year district veteran took the opportunity to address the circumstances that changed her career and eliminated all but one full-time librarian position in the district. Certified librarians were replaced with library assistants not licensed to teach.

“As funding improves over time, I hope the board and district leadership will seriously consider restoring teacher-librarian positions to be literacy and technology leaders in our schools,” she told the board. “In the interim, I hope the district might find a way to add a second or even a few (library) positions centrally to provide more effective support for the library media assistants currently running our school libraries.”

In an Oct. 4 profile in the Beaverton Valley Times, Takeda said she was “bumped” last summer from her position as the district’s coordinating librarian. Based on the formulary the district used in its staff reduction process, Stoller Middle School’s librarian was transferred into Takeda’s former role.

Offered a third-grade classroom teaching position at Findley Elementary School, Takeda decided the role wasn’t the right fit for her, and instead took voluntary leave from full-time duties to serve as a substitute. On one assignment in late September, she found herself training a new library media assistant at William Walker Elementary School.

While not pleased with the circumstances, Takeda, 41, is channeling her energies into promoting the value of licensed librarians to children’s education. To recognize October as “Information Literacy Month,” Takeda shared her efforts to get the word out with the School Board.

“I chose to focus on how licensed librarians help teach students to become independent researchers, critical thinkers and effective communicators using a range of media and technology tools,” she said. “I also decided to add my voice to others who are asking community members to advocate for stable and sufficient funding for public education in Oregon.”

Takeda also shared a website ( she created as an information and resource hub with links to “vibrant” school library programs across the country.

“It also contains links to research about well-staffed and funded school libraries and the positive impact they have on student achievement,” she said.

Beyond congratulating Takeda and thanking her for her commentary, board members did not comment on her situation or the status of library staff funding.

Takeda, who when not teaching is raising 3- and 5-year-old sons at home with her husband, Chijo, said in September she was assessing her professional future and seeking full-time job opportunities.

“It’s been the hardest experience I’ve ever had professionally,” she said of the changes.

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