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E1222e – Status of Libraries in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake (As of October 12, 2011)

The original article published in Japanese (

Current Awareness-E No.202

13 October, 2011 

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

(As of October 12, 2011)

This report summarizes key information on status of libraries in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake between the end of August and early October, 2011, following past Current Awareness-E reports (see E1155eE1161eE1166eE1172E1177e, and E1205e).

  • Libraries Resume Its Operations

Ibaraki Prefectural Library, closed for half year since the disaster, resumed its operation on September 10. Over 80 percent of its 610,000 collections had fallen off the shelves in this library, and the cost to repair the building has been reported to reach about 54 million yen. In Ibaraki Prefecture, Naka City Public Library also reopened on September 30 and Tokai Village Library on October 1.

The tsunami washed away the building of Minamisanriku Town Library in Miyagi Prefecture. The library resumed its service on October 5 in a temporary prefabricated  facility. In addition to staff of Miyagi Prefectural Library and Minamisanriku Town Library, several volunteers prepared for the reopening.

“Publishing Organization Headquarter for the Great Disaster” consisted of major publishers is planning to build a children’s library at Imaizumi Tenmangu (a Shinto shrine) in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture. The headquarter plans to open the new library in early October.

  • Digital Archives

On September 12, the Research Group on Disaster Prevention and Management of Tohoku University announced the Great East Japan Earthquake archive project named “Michinoku-Shinrokuden” (meaning “memoirs of Tohoku”). This archive collects memories and records related to the disaster from academic perspective, aiming for the global standard of disaster archives. More than 50 institutions and firms from industry, government, and academia approve and collaborate in this project, including Miyagi Prefecture, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and National Institute of Informatics (NII).

Organized on October 8 was a symposium titled “Records of the Great East Japan Earthquake and its Utilization: Aspirations of the 311 Whole Archives.” The symposium introduced the “311 Whole Archives” and held a panel discussion with Andrew Gordon, the director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University in the United States. 45,000 viewers joined the symposium broadcasted on the web.

On August 29, a nonprofit organization Digi-KEN (Research Group for Digitizing Local Materials) launched “The Rescue Project for Digitizing Local Materials in Areas Affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.” The project cleans, digitizes, and builds digital archives of local materials damaged by tsunami at Rikuzetakata City Library and Otsuchi Town Library in Iwate Prefecture.

  • Search Engines Reveal Needs in Disaster Affected Regions

On September 12, Yahoo! JAPAN published a blog article “What did People in Disaster Affected Areas Search in the Great East Japan Earthquake?” Using the log of Yahoo! search, the article analyzed search keywords used by people in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefecture during the first week following the disaster to examine needs that emerged in disaster affected regions as well as how the Internet fulfilled people’s needs. Google also released an article with similar analysis results.

  • Information Transmission

Mie Prefectural Library as well as public and university libraries in Mie Prefecture designated July through September as months of “Let’s Learn about Tohoku, Let’s Go to Tohoku.” The libraries provided information on Tohoku region to the citizens. From September 6, Mie Prefectural Library and Miyagi Prefectural Library held exchange exhibits to support reconstruction.

An English article “Messages from a Medical Library in the Earthquake-Prone Zone” was published in volume 225, issue 2 of “Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine,” an English medical journal published in Japan. The article reported damages caused by the disaster at Tohoku University Medical Library.

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

Translated by Okada Aya