Japan Earthquake: Libraries to Recover

By Mika Lawler

Earthquake damages librariesThe Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11th left massive destruction. Especially hard-hit are libraries in the coastal area; at worst libraries were wholly swept away, and many others report damaged premises and scattered, seawater-soaked collections. Library communities, government organizations, cultural institutions, private corporations and volunteers around the nation have been offering support for the libraries of the region.

The National Diet Library (NDL), the sole national library in Japan, located far away in Tokyo, had 1.8 million books on the higher floors of the stacks in the main building fall off the shelves at the time. The NDL has branch libraries in each Government ministry and in the Supreme Court. Some of those government libraries had to close for a while to restore order, but none of their damage was serious (one exception was the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Library, which had to close its reading room for several months. It kept providing library services for the government staff even during their closure).

What the NDL has been doing for the libraries in the disaster-hit area is such as dispatching its preservation specialists to affected libraries; providing specially-tailored reference and document-delivery services for the affected area.

The NDL has been archiving related websites immediately after March 11th and has been cooperating on the matter with institutions abroad. The NDL, which is also the parliamentary library, has been producing special reports on the disaster and recovery issues for the Diet (parliament) members. These are made available on its website for the public.

Photo Source: @jing_ke – Yfrog.com

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