By Guest Blogger
I visited the Miyoshi Public Library in Miyoshi Town, located in northwest of Tokyo, 30 kilometer from Tokyo Central, about one hour by train. The population is about 38,000. The Library is run by the Miyoshi Local Town Government. The circulation per capita of Miyoshi Public Library is 11.20 books per a user a year, compared to the average number of Japanese public library of 5.5. And the library has maintained its top rank in the past sixteen years.
The reason for my visit to the library is because it provides very good children’s services. The first is the Book Start Service. The second one is Book Club Service for the elementary level children. And the third one is that library provides good support and have good relationship to the school libraries. There are eight schools, five elementary schools and tree junior high schools run by the Miyoshi local Town Government.
The head Librarian, Tomoko Shirota, a children’s service professional, and she especially emphasizes the children’s services. She said that during the child period is very valuable time to child gets used to read.
Book Start Service & Book Start Plus Service
In Miyoshi Public Library, the Book Start Service is targeted at babies four months and beyond. The professional children’s librarian reads the picture book with parent and baby. And after the reading hour, the baby will be presented a picture book from the library. You can see it in the picture above that when Ms Tomoko Shirota reads the picture book to the four months old baby, the baby seems very eager to look at the book and listen to the librarian’s reading voice.. The Librarian said that it is very important to read the picture book attractively for the baby because maybe it is the first time for the baby to look at the book and listen to the reading voice. It is definitely important how baby feel about the book reading hour. The librarian tries to make the reading hour attractive and interesting because this is the first experience for not only the four months baby but also for the parent to listen to the storytelling. Through reading the picture book, almost all baby have good reactions like smiling and speaking aloud. Parent understands that the baby who is not speaking language yet, can understand the picture book through the baby’s reaction and feeling, The librarian said that the Book Start Service makes the problem of child abuse in Miyoshi Town decrease because through the reading the picture book the parent can better communicate to their baby.
When the baby is two years old, the baby have the tooth examination by the doctor. At that time it is also the time of Book Start Plus Service. Again the baby and parent have the picture book reading time together and are presented with a picture book which they will enjoy.
Book Club Services
The Miyoshi Public Library organizes two Book Clubs for boys and girls. They are two groups by their age, one club for the first and second grades in elementary school. The name of the club is Kamii Club. Kamii comes from a hero’s name in the most popular Japanese children’s book; the second club is for children from the third to sixth grades, and is named Elmer Club. Its name comes from the book titled My father’s Dragon written by Ruth Stiles Gannett. The activities of the clubs are storytelling, book talk and reading from a selected book list. The activities run every fourth Saturday of the month.
There are eight schools in Miyoshi Town. Every school has the a school library and school librarians. School librarians try to make children familiar with reading books. They provide the booklist which is the books reading during elementary years. So after six years, students finished reading all the books on the book list. The Miyoshi Public Library and eight school libraries have not only the computer network but also the human relationship network.
The Miyoshi Book Reading Declaration
The Miyoshi Public Library declared that Miyoshi Town is the town that “Love Reading and Promote lifelong reading all over the Town” in April 2016. Ms Hideko Nagano who is a famous writer of picture books is the illustrator of the promotional poster for this Reading Declaration, and Ms Hiromi Watanabe who live in the Miyoshi Town, designed it. In the poster, it says that that the Library has decided that every 23rd day of the month is “the Day to Love the Reading and a Reading Day”.
In Miyoshi Town, people from baby to senior love the reading and share the reading joy by reading together. Through reading together people can have closer relationships. The reading makes people filled with love, dream and intelligence, and makes people to a happy and satisfied life.
In 2002 and 2014 the Library was awarded as the Library with superior children’s reading activities by the Ministry of Education of Japanese Government twice.
After deciding the Miyoshi Book Reading Declaration.
Four members of the Koshigaya City school library study group visited the Miyoshi Public Library. The second from the left is the Head Librarian of the Miyoshi Public Library, the first from the right is the author of this blog article.