Information about Children and Books in Japan

The 100th All-Japan Library Conference (2014)

【2015-E001】

The 100th All-Japan Library Conference―plenary session and 11 section meetings – was held by the Japan Library Association (JLA) in the Meiji University, Surugadai Campus (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) on October 31st and November 1st, 2014. The conference theme this year was "Library Culture, Power for Tomorrow."

●Opening Ceremony and Memorial Forum

In the opening ceremony, following addresses by Akane Mori (Chair of the JLA, the host organization) and Noritada Otaki (Librarian of the National Diet Library), foreign guests gave congratulatory messages. The panelists were Motoyo Yamane (former broadcaster), Yoshitaka Haba (CEO of the BACH, LLC), Yataro Matsuura (Chief Editor of the magazine "Kurashi no techo (Notebook of Life)"), Akane Mori, and the coordinator was Toshio Machinaga (former broadcaster). The following activities were introduced using a VTR: elementary school students reading-aloud in Kesennuma City (Miyagi), florist-libraries and shop-libraries in Eniwa City (Hokkaido), BLIND BOOK MARKET―swap of covered books with reader's comments―in the Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, and others. Panelists discussed libraries' present state and their new images from their standpoint, concluding that their roles have changed from providing resources for visitors to planning reliable strategies of meeting each user's needs. Ms. Yamane, who is engaged in reading activities, said that children enjoy reading with imagination and learning various words in childhood is the basis of their life.

●Section Meeting 11 (library services for children and young people): "Reading Develops Children's Future: Power of Children's Libraries"

In the keynote speech, Takeshi Sakabe (Chair of the Junior College Library Division, JLA) indicated that librarians serving children might lack experience because more public librarians are part-time workers now and they are replaced quickly. He also pointed out some changes such as outsourcing which leads to the decrease of children's service hours by full-time librarians. On the other hand, according to him, expectation for professional children's services is growing and we need to train children's librarians with the long-term vision and give information about various practices to connect children and books.

After his speech, case studies followed. Chofu City Library (Tokyo) depicted the details of its children's book selecting process. Minamisoma City Central Library (Fukushima) reported the situation of city/school libraries after the Great East Japan Earthquake, current support for school libraries and its problems. Osaka Prefectural Central Library revealed its function as a children's reading support center and a general material center of children's culture, through collaboration of its children's room, which provides services for children, and the Center for International Children's Literature, which connects children's books and adults in the field. It also showed various events to connect children and books, advertisements and support services for city/town/village libraries.

The International Library of Children's Literature (Tokyo) reported its present state, support for librarians serving children and direct services such as story-hours and various co-organized events. The audience asked many questions and revealed their interest in book selection. Kiyoko Matsuoka (Director of the Tokyo Children's Library) reviewed each report and gave advice. She said that children's rooms in public libraries have greatly improved over the last 30 years but we need to train more professional children's librarians and make people recognize their importance.

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(2015.4.30 update)