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E1940e – Library Fair & Forum 2017 in Kumamoto

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Current Awareness-E No.1940

10 August, 2017

Library Fair & Forum 2017 in Kumamoto


In addition to its main forum in Yokohama every autumn, Library Fair & Forum hosts events called “regional forums.” On July 10, one of the four regional forums in 2017 was held in Kumamoto. Following the forum held in Sendai in 2012 (see E1299), the Library Fair & Forum Steering Committee has decided to continue dealing with libraries in disaster affected regions in both main and regional forums. As part of such effort, Kumamoto, which suffered damage from the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, was selected as the venue for this regional forum under the theme “Disasters and the Role of Libraries.”

The matter is not as simple as one would imagine. Just as disaster broadcasting and interests of citizens who view them, the number of visitors to library events and exhibitions under the theme of disaster damage decreases each time as time passes by from the moment of the disaster. Those of us in the Steering Committee thought, “As those engaged in library business, we are responsible for keeping records and memories alive for future generations. Therefore, we should maintain long-term interests at least more so than the general public.” However, we ended up regretting our optimism in planning – exhibitions we planned tended to be on “reports on situations of damage, explanation of reconstruction plans, and call for support.” This was when Yayoi Hotta of National Association of Mutual Aid for Municipal Property Damages (a public interest incorporated associations) Reference Library for Disasters came up with an exhibition plan for this forum.

In response to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, Kobe University Library began collecting materials as Earthquake Disaster Materials Collection in 1995 (see CA1853). Since then, there has been a trend among libraries in affected regions to collect disaster related materials. However, wide range of challenges has emerged as time passed by and as the number of implementing agencies increased: “Management is difficult after a staff who initiated the collecting process transfers to another position…” “Should we just collect anything?” “There’s a tendency to mix up preservation of memorial goods of affected people with archive.” “How can collected materials be useful?”

The main point of Ms. Hotta’s suggestion was to develop a list of libraries with disaster archives and to facilitate information exchange among those responsible. She therefore organized an exhibition “Libraries Engaged in Disaster Archives in Japan (全国の災害アーカイブ実施図書館).” 28 projects from 27 libraries responded to its call for participation. Panels introducing respective projects were set up on the day of the exhibition. These panels are to be made public on the website of National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED) in mid-August 2017.

Along with exhibitions, current status and outlooks of disaster archives were reported in the lecture part of the forum. Also discussed were utilization of diverse data for disaster recovery and prevention (case of NIED’s map tools), potential partnership on disaster archives among libraries and institutions such as museums (case of Kumamoto), as well as reconstruction and current status of libraries affected by Kumamoto Earthquake (cases of Mashiki Town and Kikuyo Town). Please refer to lecturers’ presentation materials that will be released in sequence on the official website of the Library Fair & Forum.

Several people who were in charge of collecting materials at the time of the disaster participated in this forum. It was striking to see the audience exchange information with them in-between lectures.

The following efforts will continue after the forum.

  1. Call for “Libraries Engaged in Disaster Archives in Japan” will continue. Panels of respective projects will be exhibited in the main forum in 2017, and materials introducing these projects that individual libraries have created will also be distributed. A networking event for further dialogue is planned at the exhibition venue of the main forum.
  2. Applications to borrow panels of “Libraries Engaged in Disaster Archives in Japan” will continue to be accepted. For those interested, please contact the Steering Committee.
  3. Call for participation in “Listserv for Institutions Developing Disaster Material Archives” – which Ms. Hotta introduced at the forum – will continue. The listserv is managed by Center for Comprehensive Management of Disaster Information Disaster Information Laboratory of NIED.

As mentioned above, the main forum scheduled for November 7-9, 2017 also plans to hold events on disaster archives. I hope many of you will join us.

Written by Nagaoki Ryuji
Library Fair & Forum Steering Committee
Translated by Okada Aya