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E1205e – Status of Libraries in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake (As of August 24, 2011)

 The original article published in Japanese ( )


Current Awareness-E No.199

25 August, 2011

Status of Libraries in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake

(As of August 24, 2011)

This report summarizes key information on status of libraries in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake between June and August 2011, following past Current Awareness-E reports (see E1155eE1161eE1166eE1172E1177e).

  • Openings of Public Libraries

Fukushima Prefectural Library, which partially reopened on July 15, is holding exhibitions titled “Overcoming the Disaster! Exhibits of Our Hometown” and “Let’s Learn about the Nuclear Power!” The library also released on its website the list of major local newspaper articles on Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Among public libraries in Fukushima prefecture, Shinchi Town Library temporary reopened on July 13, the new Shirakawa City Public Library opened on July 24 after a suspension of opening, and the Minami-Soma City Central Library partially resumed its operation on August 9.

Funabashi City Nishi Library in Chiba Prefecture decided to close for a long term based on the results of building investigation. The library currently lends and accepts returns of reserved books at an alternative facility. The Library also announced to transfer local materials to the Central Library of Funabashi City, and to resume its browsing services on August 26. Ibaraki Prefectural Library, currently under building restoration, plans to open in early September.

  • Rescuing Damaged Materials

Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties began drying documents damaged by the tsunami with vacuum freeze-drying devices on June 14 (see E1187).

On July 6, Tokyo Document Recovery Assistance Force engaged in relief of damaged documents published the “Manual for Recovery System of Damaged Documents.” The document recovery system has been installed in the Ofunato City Youth and Silver (Y・S) Center, Secretariat of Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials, and Tono Center for Cultural Studies.

On August 8, Ricoh Company, Ltd. announced the launch of “Save the Memory Project.” In partnership with the local governments, the project cleans and digitizes damaged photos and albums. Digitized outputs, along with the original, will be provided to  owners affected by the disaster.

  • Support for Libraries

Among projects on mobile libraries that circulate around disaster-affected areas are “Book Wagon” project by the Toppan group as well as “Books for Tomorrow’ Project for Children” launched upon the initiatives of Japan Board on Books for Young People (JBBY), The Japan P.E.N. Club Committee on Children’s Books, Japan Publishers Club (JPC), and Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture (JPIC).

On July 13, Japan Library Association (JLA) hosted the “Training Seminar for Volunteers in Restoration.” The participants engaged in restoration activities at Ibaraki Prefectural Library on August 3. On July 13, JLA launched a website “Consultation Service for Library Support on the Great East Japan Earthquake” to match volunteers for libraries in disaster affected regions.

  • Preservation of Records

Released on July 15 was a website for “Digital Archive of the Whole Disaster Reconstruction on the Great East Japan Earthquake (311 Whole Archives).” This project is led by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention.

In Google’s “Memories for the Future” project, photos and videos of disaster affected regions before and after the disaster began to be released on June 28. Google also announced to begin shooting in disaster affected areas using the technique of Google Map’s street view function for the purpose of recording and preserving damage situations.

In the “Basic Guidelines for Reconstruction in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake” (decided on July 29, 2011, revised on August 11, 2011) issued by the Government of Japan, development of a system of collection, storage and disclosure of records and lessons taken from the earthquake, tsunami disaster and nuclear accident was included in the section titled “Academic Research and Study on Disaster, Recording the Disaster and Handling on Lessons Learnt on to the Next Generation.”

  • Analysis of Information and Communication at the Time of Disaster

“Year 2011 White Paper Information and Communications in Japan” published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications summarizes status of telecommunications and broadcastings as well as roles and challenges of information and communication in Part I titled “Information and Communications in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.”

Information-Technology Promotion Agency (IPA) has released materials on cloud services at the times of disaster, recovery and reconstruction.

Written by Research and Information Section
Library Support Division, Kansai-kan of the National Diet Library

Translated by Okada Aya