New five-year plan for school library development


School libraries in Japan have a standard for their collections according to the number of students. However, only 37.8% of elementary school libraries and 32.4% of junior high school libraries have met this standard. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) established a new five-year plan for school library development in order to increase these rates in January 2007. For this plan, a budget of 100 billion yen for FY2007 to FY2011 (20 billion yen per year) will be allocated.

However, this budget will not be provided directly to the school libraries, but to the local governments which supervise the schools according to a fixed distribution rate. In this method of allocation the budget might not necessarily be effectively used for its intended purpose, and there have been such cases found in the former development plan for school libraries from FY 2002 to FY 2006 (see 2004-KN001).(*)

On 14th February 2007, a meeting was held to promote the activities of school libraries with the participation of more than thirty organizations including publishers, libraries and members of the National Diet. It produced a resolution urging local governments to use the budget to meet the school library standard.


*The Local Allocation Tax in Japan is a system of redistribution of tax revenues from the national government to the local governments to reduce the imbalance among the local governments' budgets. The national government allocates budgets from its national taxes according to a reasonable redistribution criterion to the local governments whose budgets are not enough to maintain ordinary administrative services. Therefore the national government is not allowed to put any restriction on how they are used.

(2007.6.30 update)