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E1795e – Impact of Kumamoto Earthquake on Libraries

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Current Awareness-E No.303

19 May, 2016

Impact of Kumamoto Earthquake on Libraries


Major damage has been caused by series of earthquakes that occurred between April 14 and 16, 2016 in Kumamoto Prefecture. Epicenters were Kumamoto and Aso regions, and the seismic intensity of these earthquakes were over six-lower, including two sevens. This article reports situations of libraries affected by the earthquake based on information through May 18, 2016. Please note that information has not been fully covered due to difficulties in obtaining information about regions with major damage.

●Impact on Libraries

Several public and university libraries in and around Kumamoto Prefecture announced temporal closure after the earthquake. Some libraries have released information about damage on library materials as well as situations of the library on its websites and through SNS. These include Kumamoto Shintoshin Plaza Library of Kumamoto City where sprinklers broke and materials were damaged by the earthquake, as well as Jonan Library and Jonan Children’s House. In other libraries in Kyushu region, collections fell off the bookshelves, and events were cancelled in consideration for aftershocks.

On the other hand, some libraries have no prospect for reopening or resuming services. Among public libraries within Kumamoto Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefectural Library is temporarily closed. Services including interlibrary loans, reference, document delivery service are all suspended, and no prospect for reopening have been announced. The library of Mashiki Town is located in Minateras Town-Mashiki Interaction Information Center, which also serves as an evacuation center for affected people. Bookshelves and collections have suffered major damage, and recovery processes continue to be underway. Uki Central (Shiranuhi) Library and Koshi Public Library (excluding Nishi-Goshi Library and mobile library) with major damage on buildings have not announced reopening.

Among university libraries, Sojo University Library plans to reopen on May 19. Recovery efforts in the library has been posted on the university website.

●Museums, Art Museums, and Archives

This section reports trends of national and regional councils as well as networks of museums, art museums, and archives. Also reported are situations of facilities within Kumamoto Prefecture.

Among councils and networks, The Japan Society of Archives Institutions began posting information on damage suffered by member institutions on its website on April 15, and has updated information since then. On April 15 and 18, Natural History Museum Network of Western Japan released information about damage on natural history museums caused by Kumamoto Earthquake. On April 22, The Japanese Council of Art Museums established Liaison Office on Kumamoto Earthquake within its head office (The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo Prefecture) and began collecting information on situations of damage among member museums.

As of May 18, the following facilities are closed: Kumamoto Prefectural Museum Network (Uki City), Tsukahara Kumamoto-shi Historical Museum, Kumamoto City Museum Branch (within the Tower of Kumamoto Castle), Kumamoto City Water Science Museum, Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanic Gardens, Kumamoto City History Document Reference Library, Kumamoto University Memorial Museum of the Fifth High School, Newspaper Museum (Kumamoto City), Uki City Shiranuhi Museum, Aso Volcano Museum, Koshi City Koshi Historical Museum (合志歴史資料館), Koshi City Nishi-Goshi Historical Museum (合志市西合志郷土資料館), Arao City Miyazaki Brothers Museum, Mifune Dinosaur Museum, Inukai Memorial Museum of Art (Mashiki Town), Shiken Fujin Memorial Museum (Mashiki Town).阿蘇火山博物館復旧状況についてお知らせ4月30日/阿蘇火山博物館復興状況5月15日現在/

The following facilities are fully or partially open: Kumamoto Prefectural Ancient Burial Mound Museum, Kumamoto Prefectural Soshokukofunkan Bunkan Rekishi Koen Kikuchi Castle Onkososeikan (Yamaga City), Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Arts Center, Kumamoto City Handicrafts Promotion Center, Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto, Kumamoto City Tabaruzaka Seinan Civil War Museum, Kumamoto International Folk-Craft Museum (Kumamoto City), Shimada Museum of Arts (Kumamoto City), Yatsushiro Municipal Museum, Amakusa Archives, Sakamoto Zenzo Museum of Art (Oguni Town). The main building of Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art plans to reopen on May 28. However, many facilities have cancelled or postpone events.熊本市現代美術館-181283245248787/


●Libraries with Announcements to Resume Services

Libraries that completed safety check and recovered materials, as well as some libraries under recovery, have announced to reopen or to resume services. Following public libraries within Kumamoto Prefecture have announced to reopen along with its hours. Some libraries have shortened hours.

  • Minamata City Library (April 19)
  • Uki City Library (April 20 excluding Shiranuhi Library)
  • Kikuyo Town Library (April 21)
  • Yatsushiro City Library (Sencho and Kagami Branches reopen on April 25 while the main branch opens on April 28)
  • Kumamoto City Library (Shimizu Community Center Library Room reopens on April 26. All branches excluding Seibu Community Center Library Room (scheduled to reopen on May 24) will reopen by May 17)
  • Kikuchi City Library (Shichijo and Central Community Center Library Room reopen on April 28.
  • Shisui Library and Kyokushi Community Center Library Room reopen on May 2)
  • Ozu Town Ozu Library (May 3)
  • Aso City Library (Aso Library, Ichinomiya Library) (May 6)
  • Uto City Library (May 10)

Among these libraries, Kikuyo Town Library set up a bulletin board within the library to post information for daily lives collected from websites of the town hall and Kumamoto Prefectural Government. Yatsushiro City Library cancelled all events planned for April and May. The director posted a message on the Facebook of Toshokan Ryutsu Center Co., Ltd., designated manager of the library. Kikuchi City Library released a roadmap to reopening, and announced that branches and sub-branches with confirmed safety of buildings have reopened. In preparing for aftershocks, Ozu Town Ozu Library have placed materials originally on upper bookshelves on the floor. Kumamoto Braille Library had discontinued lending Braille and audio books, but resumed lending Braille books on April 22. Among public libraries in other prefectures, Oita Prefectural Library reopened on April 26.【震災情報】図書館を4月30日土から再開します/

Among university libraries in Kumamoto Prefecture, the following libraries under temporal closure have reopened or opened with shortened hours: Kumamoto University, Prefectural University of Kumamoto, Kyushu University of Nursing and Social Welfare, Kumamoto Health Science University, Kumamoto Gakuen University, Shokei University, Kyushu Lutheran College, Tokai University, Heisei College of Music, and Nakakyushu Junior College. Kumamoto University Library resumed operation of Learning Commons on May 2 to provide self-learning environment for students before classes resume on May 9.

In prefectures other than Kumamoto, Nishikyushu University Library in Saga Prefecture reopened on April 19. Saga University Library, Beppu University Library, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Library in Oita Prefecture opened partially or fully in late April. Medical Library of Oita University had discontinued unattended hours at night in consideration for aftershocks, but has resumed on May 9.

●Libraries Providing Assistance to Disaster Affected Areas

Libraries outside disaster affected areas have begun providing assistance after the earthquake to offer library services to evacuees.

Among public libraries, Tottori Prefectural Library released on its website “Links to Learn Current Situations and to Support Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures (熊本県・大分県の現状を知り,応援するためのリンク集)” on April 26. The library began accepting requests for reference and document delivery service. On April 27, Osaka Prefectural Library began accepting digital reference requests on its website from residents in Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures. Tokyo Metropolitan Library began to do the same on May 2. Media reported that Sendai City Library donated 60 picture books to Kumamoto City Library at the end of April. Other libraries across Japan including Ogori City Library in Fukuoka Prefecture posted online how people affected by the disaster may use their libraries.

Many university libraries including Kyushu University Library and Tohoku University Medical Library began providing diverse services such as use of facilities and copying of materials for students, faculty, and staff affiliated with universities and junior collages in disaster affected regions. On April 19, Kumamoto University Library released a summary of information on libraries providing assistance titled “Circle of Support on Library Services Expands (図書館サービス支援の輪が広がっています).”


●Activities to Preserve Disaster Records

On April 28, The Japan Society of Archives Institutions submitted “Request on Maintenance and Preservation of Official Documents in Regions Affected by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake (平成28年熊本地震被災地における公文書等の保全・保存に関する要望書)” to the Prime Minister of Japan.

In response to Kumamoto Earthquake, Disaster Information Laboratory of National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience has opened a website “Research Materials on Kumamoto Earthquake (熊本地震に関する調査研究資料)” since May 2. The website brings together preliminary research reports released by diverse research institutions, materials on disasters, and past disaster information.


●Activities to Rescue Damaged Materials

On April 15, Historical Materials Network began collecting information about damage on old documents and records. The network visited Kumamoto on April 26 and hosted “Urgent Briefing on Kumamoto Earthquake (熊本地震に関する緊急公開報告会)” at Kobe City Kinro Kaikan on April 28.

On April 18, Municipal Government of Kumamoto called for preservation of damaged historical materials under private holdings.

On April 21, Film Preservation Society (specified non-profit corporation) began accepting requests for consultation on cleaning damaged 8mm films and video tapes.

On April 21, The Kyushu Society of Historical Science, in partnership with Historical Materials Network, began to collect information on the situations of cultural properties and historical materials in regions of Kyushu affected by the disaster.

On April 23, Rescue Network for Damaged Historical Documents in Kumamoto (熊本被災史料レスキューネットワーク) or Kumamoto Shiryo Net (熊本史料ネット) was established with its secretariat in Kumamoto University Eisei-Bunko Research Center.

On April 26, Oita Prefectural Museum History called upon citizens affected in Oita Prefecture to preserve of historical materials in their possession (wall scrolls, ancient documents, antiques, and ancient tools).


●Organizations Related to Libraries

On April 14, saveMLAK summarized tweets using hashtag #saveMLAK. These are information related to museums, art museums, libraries, archives, and community centers. On April 15, saveMLAK launched a special website for reporting situations of damage. On April 21, save MLAK hosted “The 61th saveMLAK MeetUp,” and based on the discussions and experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake released a website titled “For Safe Opening: Message from Librarians in Tohoku (安全な開館のために~東北の図書館員からのメッセージ~)” on April 26. “The 62th saveMLAK MeetUp” was held on May 7. The project leader Makoto Okamoto reported the findings from field survey (May 4 and 5).年4月熊本地震安全な開館のために~東北の図書館員からのメッセージ~

On April 15, Japan Library Association (JLA) began collecting information on damage and support for the earthquake. JLA also summarized advice for checking inside the buildings as well as recovery tasks and posted the information as “For Those in Affected Libraries (被災図書館の方へ)” on the website of JLA Library Disaster Preparedness Committee. Information on situations of damage were also posted on the same website as well as “JLA Email Magazine” (Vol. 796 and 797).

On April 15, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) launched a website with details on human suffering among students, faculty and staff. Also posted were information on material damage by facility categories, and response by the ministry.

On April 20, School Library Association (SLA) announced to provide assistance to school libraries in disaster affected areas.

On April 21, Japan Association of National University Libraries released a website titled “Assistance on Library Services for 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake (平成28年熊本地震への図書館サービス支援).” This website succeeded “Circle of Support on Library Services Expands (図書館サービス支援の輪が広がっています)” available on the website of Kumamoto University Library. It summarizes support services for students, faculty, and staff in disaster affected regions particularly around national university libraries. On May 13, Japan Medical Library Association also released a list of member libraries that support disaster affected regions.

On April 21, National Association of Institutions of Information Service for Visually Impaired Persons launched a project to provide information to visually impaired persons. Its hub will be located in Kumamoto Braille Library.

On May 9, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) began providing bibliographic information related to earthquakes listed on J-GLOBAL.

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

Translated by Okada Aya