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E1886e – Status of Libraries in the Aftermath of 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake

The original article published in Japanese ( )


Current Awareness-E No.320

23 February, 2017

Status of Libraries in the Aftermath of 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake


Major damage has been caused by series of earthquakes that occurred on April 14 and 16, 2016 in Kumamoto Prefecture. The epicenter was Kumamoto region of Kumamoto Prefecture, and the seismic intensity of these earthquakes were seven. Based on information through February 22, 2017, this article reports situations of libraries within Kumamoto Prefecture in need of time to recover from damage caused by the earthquake.


●Status of Libraries

At Kumamoto Prefectural Library, lightening systems broke and dropped, steel bookshelves broke and tilted, smoke barriers breached, and over 60 percent of materials fell off. Despite the damage, part of the services resumed on the first floor on June 1. Since January 6, following a completion of repairing steel bookshelves, the library has resumed lending service of materials located in places other than forbidden areas for restoration work on the second and the third floor.


In Kumamoto City, the City Library suffered damage of mobile racks and bookshelves, water leak with damage in water pipes, falling of air outlets, and falling of about 70 percent of the materials. The library resumed partial operation on April 21, and fully reopened on July 14. In Jonan Library, internal and external walls fell off, smoke barrier broke, and 90 percent of the materials fell off. The library resumed part of the services on May 2, and fully reopened on August 15. Kumamoto Shintoshin Plaza Library suffered water leak with damage in pipes, partial collapse of stairs, and falling of about 90 percent of the materials. The library resumed part of the services on May 6. In Uto City, the City Library experienced breach of glasses, damage and collapse of bookshelves, and was unable to shelve books with titled steel bookshelves. About 80 percent of the materials also fell off. However, the library resumed part of the services on the first floor on May 10, and fully reopened on November 12. In Uki City, the Central Library continues to be closed for damage in the facility, but resumed part of the services on August 6 by opening its mobile library in the parking lot on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays. In Nishi-Goshi Library in Goshi City, smoke barriers were damaged, air-conditioning facilities fell of, bookshelves tilted and were damaged, and about 50 percent of the materials fell off. The library fully reopened on May 20. Vivre Library remains closed with water leak caused by damaged water pipes in the ceiling, damaged auto-visual equipment, damaged bookshelves and chairs, damaged lighting equipment, falling of about 70 percent of materials and part of them soaked. At the Town Library in Mashiki Town, lightening fell off from the ceiling, part of the wall was damaged, electric mobile racks were damaged and would not function. The doorway slope was also damaged, and 90 percent of the materials fell off. The library reopened on October 1.

Among university libraries, Kumamoto Gakuen University Library in Kumamoto City experienced water leak with rupture in water-supply pipes, damage of bookshelves, non-functioning air conditioning system, falling off and water damage of materials. Restoration work continued while part of the library opened on May 23. The library fully reopened on October 24. Steel bookshelves at Tokai University Kumamoto Library in Kumamoto City tilted and shelving became impossible, but the library resumed part of its operation on May 16. Tokai University Aso Library in Minami-Aso Village remains closed for security check of the facility, but resumed part of the operation at its Kumamoto Library. Sojo University Library in Kumamoto City suffered damage of external walls, posts, internal walls, and floors. Air-conditioning equipment fell off and were damaged. However, the library resumed provision of materials located in areas other than the basement stack room on May 19, and resumed nearly-full operation in January 2017.

Among school libraries, Kumamoto Prefectural Daini High School in Kumamoto City that suffered damage of its building set up a reading room on the first floor of the second temporal school building, and opened on January 25.

Since April 21, Kumamoto Braille Library had been designated by the City Government of Kumamoto as welfare shelters for people with visual impairment (17 people in five families evacuated. Evacuees left on June 9). The library also stopped lending braille books between April 17 and April 21 as manual bookshelves would not move. Lending was restricted to users within the prefecture as materials fell off and shelves were damaged. Interlibrary loans of braille, DAISY, and audio books resumed on May 17.


●Efforts to Collect Earthquake Related Materials

Several libraries are calling for provision of materials related to Kumamoto Earthquake on respective websites. Kumamoto Shintoshin Plaza Library began to do so immediately after the earthquake, Kumamoto University Library in Kumamoto City on July 14, Mashiki Town Library on August 11, Kumamoto Prefectural Library on August 17, and Ozu Town Ozu Library on October 4. Kumamoto University Library launched “Kumamoto Earthquake Library (熊本地震ライブラリ)” section in its Central Library on October 14 and made public part of provided materials. The library also released an online version of “Kumamoto Earthquake Library” that includes links to the Internet version of provided materials as well as introductions to actions taken by universities across Japan.


Prefectural Government of Kumamoto has launched Kumamoto Earthquake Digital Archive project and are preparing to collect materials. City Government of Kumamoto is also preparing to collect materials to create a book compiling records of the earthquake. Collected materials are to be preserved and made public at the City Library, and to be provided to Kumamoto Earthquake Digital Archive of the Prefectural Government.

Written by Rangui Masayoshi
Kumamoto Prefectural Library
Translated by Okada Aya