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North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC): News

Eulogy for Yasuko Makino (1937-2020) and a call for sharing comments, thoughts, and memories

by Tara McGowan on 2020-01-16T10:26:00-05:00 | Comments



As many of you know, on the morning of January 5, 2020, the field of Japan Studies librarianship lost one of its most beloved colleagues: Yasuko Makino (1937-2020).


We are asking all those who share memories of Makino-san to send in comments and thoughts for us to post on the NCC Website with her recent interview.

(Please send your messages to



On Wednesday, January 8, former NCC Chair Setsuko Noguchi attended the funeral at the Kingston Presbyterian Church in New Jersey, and give the following eulogy:


On behalf of the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources, I would like to express our deepest sadness at the loss of Yasuko Makino, a dear friend and colleague. If it were not for the many contributions of Yasuko Makino, the field of Japanese Studies librarianship would certainly not be what it is today. When the NCC began discussing who should be interviewed for an oral history to honor key voices in the field, the first person on everyone’s minds was Yasuko Makino.
When Yasuko moved to the US in 1964, Japanese Studies was just in its infancy, and there were many hurdles to overcome. Wherever Yasuko Makino saw a need for something in her field, she worked tirelessly to make it happen. Sheparticularly enjoyed assisting library patrons and this guided her to prepare tools to help them use the library resources more easily. She prepared numerous bibliographies of library tools, taught bibliography courses, and published annotated reference sources to be used as a textbook. One such book was  A Student Guide to Japanese Sources in the Humanities, which is still used today. Yasuko was also active building better communication between Japan Studies Librarians in Japan and the US. She acquired Japan Foundation funding for a Japanese Studies Librarians’ Tour of Libraries in Japan and was later selected to represent the U. S. for the first Senior Japanese Librarians Training in Tokyo, which she described as one of the highlights of her career. With all these other activities, she also found time to write articles to improve the treatment of women in the workplace and a bibliography of Japanese children’s literature. Her service as a librarian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, was so valued that all the Faculty of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies wrote letters to the University Librarian to retain her in Illinois when she received an offer from another university. Yasuko Makino went on to build and curate collections at Columbia University and at Princeton, where she retired in 2012.
Although she worked energetically to help build the foundations of Japanese Studies librarianship through her writing  and research, Yasuko Makino is perhaps best remembered as a mentor and teacher. In her interview, which is posted on the NCC website, she writes: “In my family, teaching is not merely a job, but a vocation. As a matter of fact, four of us seven children became teachers.” When Yasuko moved to the US, she discovered a love of librarianship. Her pursuit of her library of science degree allowed her to channel her vocation as a teacher in a new direction, by mentoring young librarians and sharing her extensive knowledge and expertise with everyone with whom she came in contact. When asked in her recent interview what, if anything, she would change about her career, she said: “To have become a librarian earlier.” 
But Yasuko Makino was much more than her career as a librarian. She was also a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, and a much-loved friend and colleague. We will all miss her humor, humility, and generous spirit, and our thoughts are with her family who will feel her loss most of all.

Please send your thoughts, memories, and comments to

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