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JSIST 2004 Pages: December 13, 2004

Visit to Kyoto University Libraries

Kyoto University Library Overview
Kyoto University, founded in 1897, has a long and rich history as the second oldest university in Japan. Its library, established in 1899 and already past its centennial anniversary, has excellent collections, holding more than six million volumes of books and 73,000 periodical titles. The library makes a great contribution to the scholarly community inside and outside Japan through international and domestic ILL/document delivery service and digitization of rare materials. In particular, Kyoto University took the initiative in creating digital archives to record images of its rare materials collection. This report, which was prepared with the help of some handouts provided by the university, will briefly discuss the structure of the Kyoto University Library system and then will focus mainly on its digitization project

Kyoto University Library Network
It is interesting to note that while Keio University centralized its library system by closing departmental libraries and allowing the library's head office to manage departmental acquisition funds for library materials, Kyoto University respects the autonomy of departmental libraries and has kept a dispersed structure. Thus the library system of Kyoto University consists of 54 libraries, including two university libraries (Central and Uji Branch) and many smaller departmental libraries. Library materials are widely dispersed; for example, in 2003, Kyoto University acquired 110,000 volumes, but only about 10,000 volumes are held at the Central Library. I personally respect this system, which allows flexibility and originality within the departmental libraries. On the other hand, when doing library research at Kyoto University, users must always search the OPAC to determine the location of materials. Kyoto University Library accepts visitors and departmental libraries are generally open to visitors as well. Still, it is highly recommended to contact the holding library to confirm the holdings and availability of the material in advance. It should be also noted that Kyoto University is a very active participant in the GIF project and accepts ILL requests from North America. If the holding branch library allows, the Central Library accepts ILL and document delivery requests for materials held at branch libraries.

Regarding the organization of the Kyoto University Library system, an outside review report issued in March 2000 includes an interesting discussion of the philosophy and practice of this "controlled dispersed system." In April 2004 Kyoto University established the Kyoto University Library Network & Committee of Kyoto University Libraries with the aim of creating more collaboration and coordination among libraries to better serve the development of scholarly communication. It would be extremely difficult to change the existing system, but I would like to see successful networking that would provide a model for a university library system.

Kyoto University Digital Library
Kyoto University was one of those university libraries that took the initiative in creating a digital library. Its digitization project started in 1994, and in 1997, Kyoto University received a multi-year government grant to fund a digital library program intended to provide a model for other university libraries' digitization projects in terms of content and technology. Kyoto University focused on digitizing its rare materials collection, and as of August 2004, its "Kicho shiryo gazo ("Rare Materials Exhibition"), included 3,331 items and 419,229 image files from its special collections, some of which are recognized as national treasures or important cultural assets of Japan. According to Kyoto University, more than 90 percent of those accessing its digital library are from outside the university and approximately 80 percent of them visit the "Rare Materials Exhibition." The digitization project allows the university to better preserve these materials while enabling the public-including overseas researchers-to use them for their research. (It is ironic that more people are now interested in examining the original materials after seeing images of them through the Digital Library.)

The digitization project at Kyoto University avoids using cutting-edge technology in favor of HTML and JPEG in order to provide easy access. An exception is its Konjaku monogatari collection, which uses Flash Player, allowing the user to compare the original handwriting text and transliterated text. I personally found this very interesting and user-friendly, and I was happy to learn that other university libraries have adopted this idea for their digitization projects. I also found interesting that the "zoshi" collection is designed for children, providing image and outline. An English version of this collection as well as "Kunijo kabuki ekotoba" is also available. I hope undergraduate students in English-speaking countries find them useful and enjoyable to read.

Unfortunately, the digitization project is currently inactive due to the fact that the Ministry of Education's grant cycle is over. I sincerely hope that Kyoto University will be able to resume its digitization project and continue to have an important role in creating and disseminating digital information.

[Prepared by Michiko Ito.]

Visit to the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken)

Prof. Atsushi Aiba, Director of the Library and Research Information Dept. and the Office for Virtual Resources, Nichibunken, introduced a variety of databases produced by Nichibunken, most of which are freely accessible from Those that have and will become available this year include the digitized images of 142 erotic picture books from the Edo period, the Dojoji Engi Emaki scroll, and several texts of Meisho Zue of Kyoto from the Edo and the Meiji periods, all owned by Nichibunken. Prof. Aiba also mentioned about the collaborative project between Nichibunken and the Library of Congress which would digitize Japanese maps and prints held by the Library of Congress.

Mr. Yasuyuki Iwabuchi, Head of the Library Division, discussed the collection and the services provided by the Nichibunken Library. The session was followed by a tour to the Library.

(Handout 1, 2, 3, 4 are available.)

[Prepared by Toshie Marra.]

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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