APL Tokyo: Web site moved to: http://web.mac.com/karlt3/APL/Welcome.html


Coming event
Our Purpose
Sources for Librarians
Your APL Executive


 Report on a visit to The Japan Foundation Information Center

        (JFIC) Library.

   On the November 17th, six APL members visited JFIC Library in Roppongi.

   Ms Kurita, a librarian, first introduced the institution and we looked around this well-designed library with a souvenir shop. You can visit the Library at its website. And Ms Kurita said any questions about the library or Japan Foundation are welcome.    http://www.jpf.go.jp/e/jfic/lib/index.html

   We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Library has a collection of Western and Japanese rare books passed on from the former institution, KBS

(Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai 1934-1971).  There was also an amazing and scenic view of Akasaka from Library’s 20th floor perch.  
For anyone interested in Japanese studies, this is a most excellent collection with deep coverage in all areas Japanese, and a fine collection of academic journals and magazines in Japanese Studies
. The Library is open to all and grants borrowing privileges to the public.


    After the tour some of us took a subway to visit the Tokyo Kotenkai Auction, an annual Japanese antiquarian book auction in Ochanomizu. We were able to experience the feel of Washi (Japanese paper) and the scent of Edo period exuded from the books.                            (T. Koizumi)





  APL Meeting Tokyo    June 26, 2007    Goethe-Institut Library, Akasaka   http://www.goethe.de/tokyo


Recent Trends in German Libraries

Presentation by Christel Mahnke 

Goethe-Institut Tokyo, Information and Library Services


Goethe-Institut is the German cultural institute abroad and organizes cultural programs, language courses, library and information services. It runs an invitation program for professionals (including library and information professionals) from all over the world to experience German culture and meet German experts. The Goethe-Institut headquarter is located in Munich. Its Information and Library Department is part of the network of German libraries. Christel Mahnke, who served as head of this department 2002-2007, speaks about three major trends in German libraries:


  • Digitization: more and more libraries deal with digital content
  • Library as Meeting Point: Libraries are local community centers, as well as meeting points for the scientific community
  • Information Literacy: Libraries teach children, students and adults the art and pleasure of reading and research



There is no doubt; the world of libraries and information is going digital. Three exemplary projects are presented:

Divibib provides Digital media for download, designed for users in public libraries. The public libraries of Hamburg, Würzburg, Köln provide each around 6.000  - E-Books, E-Papers, Videos und audio books. Have a look at the service (scroll down for a choice of titles):





vascoda.de is a joint Internet portal for scientific and scholarly information. It gives user-friendly access to reliable information and full texts from a wide range of different subject areas. vascoda.de and the integrated subject offerings are developed and maintained by academic libraries and nationally important information institutions.   Here is the link:   (German)  http://www.vascoda.de/

(English) http://www.vascoda.de/vascoda?SERVICE=TEMPLATE&SUBSERVICE=MAIN_FRAME&SID=VASCODA:1378361280&LANGUAGE=en


Kopal is a cooperation project to ensure the long-term availability of electronic publications. It aims to develop technological and organizational solutions. Their German homepage  http://kopal.langzeitarchivierung.de  and English: http://kopal.langzeitarchivierung.de/index.php.en


Library as Meeting Point

As our life becomes more digital, there is a growing need to meet other people face to face. Over the last 10 years, several new library buildings have been completed. A landmark building helps the library to became a meeting point for the local or the campus community. Two examples:

University Library Cottbus (German only)  http://www.tu-cottbus.de/einrichtungen/de/ikmz/ 

      About the building (English) http://eng.archinform.net/projekte/4451.htm?scrwdt=1024

Public Library Ulm (German only)   http://www.ulm.de/kultur_tourismus/bibliotheken_und_literatur/stadtbibliothek.30713.3076,3963,3669,30713.htm


Information Literacy

Many people feel lost in the flood of information. Librarians can help children, students, professionals and the retired ‘silver generation’ to develop their reading habit and research skills. Some examples for libraries’ activities:

Reading education ‚Leselatte‘ (reading meter): A meter for kids until the age of 10, with tips for reading education for their parents or kinder garden personnel. It is aimed especially to families with weak reading tradition, available in German as well as Arabic, Turkish, English and French

Click here for a look: http://www.buecherbabys.de/leselatte/seiten/frames_09-2006/startseite_deutsch.html

Training courses for students are part of the service of every university library. Some offer online tutorials:


Computer and research classes for the ‘silver generation’ of retired professionals are provided by public libraries. They also offer information services free of charge for everybody, and collections of annotated web links: http://www.internetbibliothek.de/index_user.jsp


Here are some pictures of public library Cologne (Köln), including the bus service:






Finally, the main trend of German libraries is cooperation. Recently, the state libraries in Munich and Berlin have signed a cooperation agreement, and the German National Library is involved in many cooperation projects on national and European level.


German National Library cooperation projects

(English) http://www.ddb.de/eng/wir/kooperation/nat_internat.htm  (German) http://www.ddb.de/wir/kooperation/nat_internat.htm


State library  Munich http://www.bsb-muenchen.de/Die_Bayerische_Staatsbibliothe.114.0.html

State library Berlin http://staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/


Finally, the Central Libraries for Science and Technology (TIB), the German National Library of Medicine (ZB MED) in Cologne and the German National Library of Economics (ZBW) also stepped up their cooperation. Here, you can read an article about them

(English) http://www.goethe.de/wis/bib/thm/bty/en2181390.htm  (German) http://www.goethe.de/ins/jp/tok/wis/bid/de2181390.htm

(Japanese) http://www.goethe.de/ins/jp/tok/wis/bid/ja2181390.htm


If you want to keep in touch with the development of German libraries, here are some pages for you:

(German) http://www.bibliotheksportal.de/  and   www.goethe.de/bibliothek


(English) http://www.goethe.de/library


(Japanese) http://www.goethe.de/ins/jp/tok/wis/bid/jaindex.htm


...or just send an email to mahnke@tokyo.goethe.org  (German, English) or yoshitsugu@tokyo.goethe.org (Japanese)






Report on Meiji University Visit

On Saturday, March 17th members of APL and two non-librarian guests were given a tour of Meiji University's Library and Museum arranged by APL's coordinator Mr. Toru Koizumi of Rikkyo University Library. The tour started in the University's Museum which features a superb collection of exhibition catalogs from museum exhibitions all over Japan. The museum's focuses on issues of law and punishment in the Edo Period and has a superb historical collection of implements of punishment from Japan and elsewhere, including gallows, guiottine, and a kind of Japanese version of 'stocks' wherein one is locked up and exposed to the public who are given the option of using a saw blade on the criminal. The museum also featured a fine collection of Japanese archeological finds extending to pre-historical times.

After the museum we were given a tour of the extensive books and periodicals collections of the library by Mr. Fumio Izawa, Manager of the Library's Department of General Affairs. The library has managed to build and store a very extensive collection by putting a significant portion of the library on microfilm, which are accessible to users by way of a very fast automated retrieval system. Another large area of the stacks use compressed shelving.

Next, we were treated to a selection of a Meiji University's superb rare maps collection, which included several beautiful maps from the Edo and Meiji Periods, a Dutch Atlas from 1692, and a map of the early foreigners' settlements of Yokohama. This was only a selection of their very impressive collection some of which has been scanned and can be surveyed on the library's web site. 

All in all it was an informative and enjoyable survey of an impressive library.

(Charles Laurier)

Libraries Tour :

Conservation room of the Archive Division of the Royal Household Agency and the National Archive of Japan


October 14th, 2006, 13:00-17:00


As the family of the Crown Prince does not have a male child, former Prime Minister Koizumi wanted to change the law to allow a female emperor. But this year the Royal Household Agency should feel happy because the wife of the princes younger brother (Akishino-miya) had a male baby this September.


On a clear autumn day nine APL members visited the Archives and Mausolea Department of the Royal Household Agency (Kunaicho Shoryobu), located in the East Garden of Royal Palace. Historians, staff, and conservators work together to maintain Japanese traditional culture in this archives. More than 400,000 documents are stored there, and of these, more than 120,000 documents have been damaged by insects (death beetle etc.), water, and so on. Eight conservators continuously mend, repair, and bind the documents and scroll books. Then the documents are checked and compiled by historians into a facsimile book series. Mr. Toshitake Yoshino has worked here as a book conservator for more than 40 years and still energetically researches and brushes up his book repairing techniques.

He uses a wheat paste of varying thickness to give backing and lining to documents and historical books with Washi (Japanese paper made of mulberry trees etc). In international conservation, Washi, Gampi, Kozo are professional terms. Washi was used for the preservation work on the frescoes of the Sistine Chapels ceiling in a cleaning technique using a special chemical water.

To use this archive, application and permission at the agency are necessary. Up to 6 users can use its reading room. Users must wash their hand and pens are not permitted.


Prior to visiting the Archive of Royal Household Agency, we visited the National Archives close to there and enjoyed a special exhibition about the Great Prime Ministers of the Meiji Period (18681915). One of our members, Ms Yumiko Ohara, kindly prepared a packet of materials about the exhibition for APL members. I realized that those Prime Ministers were among those from Kagoshima or Yamaguchi prefecture who overthrew the Tokugawa Shoguns government in 1868. Prime Minister Abes grandfather was also from Yamaguchi prefecture. The Meiji period was just after a period of Japanese Civil War.

We also visited a small museum of The Royal Household Agency, San-no-maru Shuzokan.

Afterward, we went to the cafe in the Palace Hotel and enjoyed pleasant conversation over a wonderful service of sandwiches, coffee, tea, and cake.

It was a beautiful autumn day and the Royal Palace is really Central Park in Tokyo.

( Toru Koizumi)  





APL Event, 27 September, 2005

A big thank-you to Jens Boyer for his presentation at the Goethe Institut at the end of September – it was very interesting and informative. The full report of the meeting follows:


Report on APL meeting 27.9.05


Jens Boyer, Librarian at Goethe-Institut Tokyo

APL meeting on 27 September 2005


Jens Boyer gave an interesting and fascinating presentation at the Goethe-Institut (GI) in Tokyo on 27 September. It concerned the development of a library reading room at Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. The technicalities of developing a library and information service in that city were one issue but working with partners in Pyongyang with a different political philosophy, were more important. Also, Jens pointed out that travel to Pyongyang from Tokyo could take two days, as one needed to travel via Beijing. Likewise, communication – such as fax – had to go via the Goethe Institut in Beijing.


Jens noted that the GI development was in tandem with other European Community initiatives in North Korea.  The function of the library reading room is similar to facilities the GI had developed in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. However, in North Korea, the function was to provide access to scientific literature and current cultural and social information about Germany. This had to be agreed with the Foreign Ministry in North Korea – a formal contract. Other issues were developing an information function rather than a lending library service, staffing, furniture and equipment and, mostly importantly, free access to information. There are currently 4000 items stocked, and this will rise to 8000 items.


The reading room is mainly used by students, musicians, scientists and those studying medicine. It was noted that a small but significant number of people in North Korea could speak and read the German language.


Jens also showed a number of slides showing life in Pyongyang. Of particular interest were photographs of The Great People’s Study House, which acts as a national library for the country, but in a unique way, as it also offers adult education classes, etc. Jens outlined what access people had to these information sources and the structured way of life that North Koreans had to follow. Jens has made four visits to the country over the last two years, setting up the project.


There were many questions to Jens about his experiences in Pyongyang. Some concerned the freedom of access to information, not least through digital means.


It was clear that the situation in Pyongyang was very different from our own library experience here in Tokyo. The evening had provided a fascinating view of a different way of working, and an interesting development initiated by one of our APL members. More than 20 people attended, a number of which were new to APL events, and were warmly welcomed.


Anthony Tilke

Yokohama International School