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E1478e – Interview with Suzuki Shiho, Award Winner of the Best IFLA Poster 2013

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Current Awareness-E No.245

26 September, 2013

Interview with Suzuki Shiho, Award Winner of the Best IFLA Poster 2013

Suzuki Shiho of Fukushima Prefectural Library presented a poster titled “The Librarians of Fukushima” during the World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) 2013 of International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) held in Singapore in August, and won the Best Poster Award. We interviewed Ms. Suzuki about the award and her poster.
○  Congratulations on winning the award. Tell us your feelings.

Thank you so much. I myself am very surprised. Since I did not expect to win the award, I had returned to Japan from Singapore on the very last day of the poster session, before the announcement of the award. So I first heard about it from another Japanese who was at the announcement of the Best IFLA Poster 2013 in Singapore.

All the posters presented were sophisticated and stylish. I saw several presentations on cutting-edge efforts, including a national initiative for reading as well as study outcomes from researchers around the world. In contrast to these posters, my poster was layers of colored drawing papers, written with crayons. That must have caught people’s attention. The content of my poster is neither a national project nor a cutting-edge research. It reported how librarians in Fukushima responded after the Great East Japan Earthquake. I had not expected to win the award.

○  What did you present in your poster?

I showed appreciation for all the support for Fukushima from around the world, and summarized the efforts of librarians in Fukushima prefecture to support people’s reading and information activities   after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In my poster, I created a timeline including “immediately after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake,” “one month after the disaster,” “about one month to one year after the disaster” and “present” I showed what the librarians were thinking and what actions were taken at respective time periods with short sentences and portraits that I drew.

Many schools were used as evacuation centers immediately after the disaster. School librarians delivered books to evacuees and read for children. During the time period between disaster and a closure of evacuation centers, librarians of libraries located in  evacuation zones left the town together with the citizens of local municipalities and made newspapers, created small reading rooms with donated books, delivered necessary information to evacuees, and created relaxing space in evacuation centers.

There were also librarians who had to leave their position due to the disaster and the nuclear accident. There were several experienced librarians in Fukushima at the time of the disaster. Librarians stayed with the people of Fukushima, sought for best possible solutions at the time, collected and provided resources as well as information. I wanted to show to the world and record about the librarians that I was able to meet in person and hear their stories.

○  What were some of the things you talked with the audience at IFLA?

Several people questioned about the damage that libraries suffered, the degree of recovery, and the situations of libraries in evacuation zones of the nuclear accident. In the session, I made a presentation showing photos of damaged libraries and library rooms established in evacuation centers on iPad.

Several people commented “Kawaii” to the portraits I had drawn. I was surprised to learn that the Japanese word “Kawaii” has spread around the world. I had drawn myself on the poster, so sometimes I would self-introduce myself saying, “This is me!”

I received kindness, support, and encouragement from people from various countries.

○  You’ve exhibited the poster next to the “Great East Japan Earthquake Fukushima Prefecture Reconstruction Library” in Fukushima Prefectural Library. How did the users respond?

With much media attention, I was glad to see many people who came to the library to see the poster.

Perhaps because the poster is quite big, several people stopped by to see the poster. Many people came to me saying “congratulations on winning the award” and “I see that the library also went through a hard time.”

○  Lastly, could we have a word for librarians in Japan and around the world?

I believe that this Best Poster Award is an encouragement for Fukushima Prefecture and librarians in Fukushima. Thank you so much. Reconstruction will take a long, long time. I hope you will continue to provide support for Fukushima.

Written with cooperation from Shiho Suzuki
Fukushima Prefectural Library
Written by Research and Information Section
Library Support Division, Kansai-kan of the National Diet Library

Translated by Okada Aya