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E1351e – Status of Libraries in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake (As of October 24, 2012)

The original article published in Japanese (

Current Awareness-E No.225

25 October, 2012

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

(As of October 24, 2012)

This report summarizes key information on status of libraries in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake between late August and late October, following past “Current Awareness-E” reports (see E1155eE1161eE1166eE1172E1177e, E1205e, E1222e, E1248e, E1263e, E1274e, E1302e, and E1328e).

  • Support Activities

In August, Rakuten, Inc. donated packets of books for research learning to 65 libraries, community centers, and schools in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima Prefectures as “Project to Support Summer Learning.”

On September 5, cultural properties in about 370 boxes were carried out for the first time from Tomioka Town, Okuma Town, and Futaba Town, all designated as evacuation areas for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster. Similar task is also planned for Naraha Town and Namie Town.

As part of the “2012 Project to Assist Restoration of Public Documents Damaged by the Disaster,” National Archives of Japan dispatched its staff members to Ishinomaki City  and Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture on September 3 (terminated on September 28), and to Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture on October 1. Project launched in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture in July terminated on September 14.

On September 26, “Iwate Mobile Library Project” of Shanti Volunteer Association began to circulate a mobile library in Yamamoto Town, Miyagi Prefecture. The library also began to circulate in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture on October 20.

On September 28, Agency for Cultural Affairs announced “Current Trends and Future Cultural Policies (Proposal): Learning from the Great East Japan Earthquake, Cultural Power Revives Communities and Japan.” Based on the experience of the disaster, the proposal makes recommendations on support for disaster affected regions and promotion of arts and culture in Japan.

In response to the request by Board of Education of Iwate Prefecture, the National Diet Library implemented a full restoration of “Yoshida Family Material.” This material, designated as a tangible cultural asset by Iwate Prefecture, have suffered damage by the disaster. The project will take place for two years, between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2014. The progress is reported on its Facebook website.

On October 1, Board of Education of Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture was awarded the Sixth Award for Promoting Characters Culture by The All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s and Editor’s Association. The town has encouraged reading to its residents for ten years, and continues to do so even after the entire town evacuated following the earthquake, tsunami, and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster in partnership with Aizuwakamatsu City, a municipality hosting their evacuation. 

“Tenshin Rokkakudo Restoration Project” of Ibaraki University won the 2012 Good Design Awards by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion. The project rebuilt Rokkakudo, a registered tangible cultural asset (at the time) that was washed away by the tsunami.

  • Activities to Preserve Records

On September 1, on disaster prevention day, Fuji Television Network, Inc. launched “Remembering 3.11: FNN Great East Japan Earthquake Archive.” About 30 videos on disaster records were released in the archive. The video includes explanations and subtitles in English.

Volume 62, issue 9 of “Journal of Information Science and Technology Association (情報の科学と技術)” is a special issue on “Disaster and Information” with four articles. 

On September 4, Tohoku Gakuin released an online version of “3.11 The Great East Japan Earthquake Records of a Year at Tohoku Gakuin.” Published as a booklet on March 11, the report summarizes damage situations of the university library as well as its cooperation with Cultural Properties Rescue Program.

In September, an article titled “The Great East Japan Earthquake and Support for Children’s Reading and School Libraries” by Yumiko Kasai, Assistant Professor of Tamagawa University, appeared in volume 12 of “The Window (国際子ども図書館の窓)” published by the International Library of Children’s Literature.

On October 9, “Michinoku-Shinrokuden” (meaning “memoirs of Tohoku”), an archive project on the Great East Japan Earthquake by International Research Institute for Disaster Science announced to begin batch storage of disaster records as well as remote and long-term storage of disaster records in collaboration with Wanbishi Archives. The project also released its 2011 Outcome Report on October 17.

Activities to preserve historical documents damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake appeared in a special version of manga “Gallery Fake” by Fujihiko Hosono. Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials (Miyagi Net) appeared in the story.

  • Events and Exhibitions

From August 17 to August 31, Miyagi Prefectural Library hosted a panel exhibition titled “Recovery of Libraries and Reconstruction Support: The Role of Prefectural Library” on the second floor of Miyagi Prefectural Government. In the same building, “Signpost of Reconstruction: Exhibition of Books on the Great East Japan Earthquake III” is being held from September 7 to November 25. This is a special exhibition that introduces industries as well as recovery and reconstruction in the prefecture.

Tachibana-Kai, an alumni association of University of Tsukuba School of Library and Information Science hosted an open symposium “Kizuna: Passing down Libraries and the Disaster” on October 7. In the program was a keynote speech, presentations by alumni working in libraries in disaster affected regions as well as by students who volunteered in the area, and panel discussions.

“Exhibition of Tohoku’s Cultural Properties that Revived from the Disaster” by Tono Center for Cultural Studies in Iwate Prefecture and other organizations will circulate around Shizuoka, Aichi, and Hyogo Prefectures from October to January 2013. The event was also hosted in 2011.

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

Translated by Okada Aya