You are here

Home»English Article

E1302e – Status of Libraries in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake (As of June 27, 2012)

The original article published in Japanese (

Current Awareness-E No.217

28 June, 2012

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

(As of June 27, 2012)

This report summarizes key information on status of libraries in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake between late March and late June 2012, following past “Current Awareness-E” reports  (see E1155eE1161eE1166eE1172E1177e, E1205e, E1222e, E1248e, E1263e, and E1274e).

  • Reports Reviewing a Year since the Disaster

The National Diet Library (NDL) published a research report titled “The Great East Japan Earthquake and Libraries” at the end of March, 2012 (see E1283). In April, National Archives of Japan released a report on its project to assist restoration of public documents damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

The anniversary was also featured in journals. The March 2012 volume of “Journal of College and University Libraries (大学図書館研究)” published a special issue on “The Great East Japan Earthquake and University Libraries.” “Gekkan Bunkazai (月刊文化財)” published by the Agency for Cultural Affairs also held a special issue “A Year after the Great East Japan Earthquake” in its April 2012 volume. Furthermore, the June/July 2012 volume of “National Diet Library Monthly Bulltin (国立国会図書館月報)” included an article titled “Salvaging Materials Damaged in the Great East japan Earthquake: Thinking Back on the past year’s support Activities of the NDL.”

On May 30, Japan Library Association (JLA) held a debriefing session on its year-long support activities.

On June 12, Ibaraki Library Association released a report titled “The Great East Japan Earthquake Damage Records among of Libraries in Ibaraki Prefecture.” The report summarizes damage situations in public libraries, community centers, university libraries, as well as private libraries within Ibaraki Prefecture.

  • Reopening and Establishment of Libraries in Disaster Affected Regions

On April 7, “Rikuzentakata Community Library Room” opened in an auto-camping site in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture, with donations from crowd funding. In Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture, “Onagawa Tsunagaru Library” began running mobile libraries using cars donated by Kinki University on April 24.

In Iwate Prefecture, Noda Village Library located inside the village’s Lifelong Learning Center reopened on May 21. The library had suffered catastrophic damage and had been closed for 14 months after the disaster. On the same day, University of Tsukuba Art and Physical Education Library reopened. The library had been closed for restoration since December, 2011.

On June 1, a temporary library room called “Shiroyama Library Room” opened in the central community center in Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture. The library shelves over 60,000 donated books. The town library suffered devastating damage from the tsunami, and 53,000 of its collection had been discarded.

Rikuzentakata Public Library is preparing to open a temporary library in a two-storied prefabricated facility and to launch a mobile library in July. The library building was completely destroyed by the tsunami. On June 5, the library launched “Rikuzentakata Public Library Dream Project” in cooperation with Value Books, a book recycling company. Demolition of damaged building is scheduled to take place by the end of June.

  • Preserving Records

Since the end of March, Chofu City Library in Tokyo Prefecture is collecting experiences and photos of the disaster from citizens to compile them as historical materials. On April 17, Rias Ark Museum of Art in Miyagi Prefecture began collecting digitalized photos, videos, and essays about the disaster as “Records of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Kesennuma City and Minamisanriku Town.”

On May 27, Tohoku University hosted “Library Fair and Forum 2012 in Sendai: Library Policies Forum 2012 – The Great East Japan Earthquake and MALUI Partnership” (see E1299).

On June 8, “Preserving Records on the Great East Japan Earthquake: Appeal from the Japan Archives President Conference” was adopted at the 2012 Conference of Presidents of Archives in Japan. The document, showing common understanding of all archives across Japan, refers to preservation and digitalization of disaster records.

  • Preparing for Future Disasters

In March, Association of Public Libraries in Kanto Region agreed on a mutual partnership in times of large scale disasters. The agreement includes preservation of valuable materials and investigation of damage situations among prefectural libraries in eleven prefectures.

In April, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Governing Board approved the principles of engagement in library-related activities in times of conflict, crisis, or disaster. The principles aim to strengthen cooperation and participation among activities to preserve cultural properties.

In May, Japan Library Association (JLA) published a booklet titled “Earthquake Countermeasures for Libraries.” The publication is to be used when local libraries compile manuals for responding to earthquakes.

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

Translated by Okada Aya