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2015-1-5 New Year Greetings for 2015: To prove worthy of trust

Portrait of Mr. Otaki, Librarian of the National Diet Library

Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

In August 2012, the National Diet Library (NDL) announced its Mission and Objectives 2012–2016 (M&O). The M&O reaffirms six priority issues that the NDL plans to tackle over five years: (1) enhancement of support for the National Diet of Japan, (2) extensive acquisition and preservation of both digital and non-digital materials / information, (3) facilitation of usage and promotion of access to these materials / information, (4) enhanced cooperation with related institutions both in Japan and abroad, (5) further development of archives of the Great East Japan Earthquake and enhancement of their meaning to society, and (6) promotion of a transparent and efficient administration system. In May 2013, we further elucidated a series of Strategic Goals as concrete milestones in achieving our M&O. Now, as we welcome a new year, we would like to reaffirm our determination and renew our best efforts to achieve these objectives. Accordingly, we very much appreciate your continued guidance and encouragement during 2015.

As the Librarian of the NDL, I have the good fortune to meet a wide variety of people on a daily basis. On those occasions, I am always deeply gratified by the kind remarks that convey the trust placed in the NDL and its activities. On behalf of everyone at the NDL, let me just say that we rejoice at the reliance our users place in us, and we are committed to proudly but humbly sustaining our efforts to prove all the more worthy of your trust.

Now, I have some firm convictions about the policies we will be prioritizing this year, which I would like to convey to you.

First, to play a sufficient role in supporting the legislative activities, we will strengthen our specialized research and analysis services as necessary to provide precise information. Our goal is to provide the Diet with services that are prompt, neutral, objective, and accurate, while also maintaining the confidentiality of our clients. In response to our users' expectations, we will not only fulfill individual requests, but also enrich our publications with the results of anticipatory research on national issues, including introduction and analysis of the institutions, policies, and legislation of foreign countries. We will also place added emphasis on our role as a link between the public and the Diet, by enhancing accessibility to information from the Diet, such as the Full-Text Database System for the Minutes of the Diet. We also intend to strengthen our cooperation with foreign parliamentary libraries, further improve our research capabilities, and contribute to the development of parliamentary libraries worldwide.

Second, we are planning a major renovation of the International Library of Children's Literature (ILCL). The ILCL opened in 2000 as a branch of the NDL specializing in domestic and foreign children's books and related materials, and provides internationally linked library services for children's literature. The existing building is based on a renovation of the Ueno Library (former Imperial Library), built during the Meiji period in Ueno Park, Tokyo. After the construction of a new annex building is completed in June 2015, the existing building will be renovated as we undergo a transitional period, during which some rooms will be closed while we shift to a new system. By March 2016, the Teens' Research Room will open in the existing building. The new annex building will contain facilities such as the Researchers' Reading Room, and stacks capable of housing approximately 650,000 volumes. Once both the new building and the renovation of the existing building are completed, the ILCL will once again offer full-fledged services.

Third, we will expand our efforts to acquire digital publications distributed on the Internet by the private sector. Since July 2013, we have been acquiring materials available free of charge and without Digital Rights Management (DRM) as per the 2012 revision of the NDL Law, and have made this material available to users for browsing on the NDL premises. Also, we are currently working to create a legal acquisition system for online publications that are either priced or protected by DRM, and hope to launch a trial project with the cooperation of publishers and other concerned parties as we work to identify issues related to the establishment of an effective yet equitable framework for acquisition. Given that cooperation from the publishing industry and other concerned parties is indispensable to the successful undertaking of this project, we will continue our reciprocal consultations.

Fourth, we will promote our development of the NDL Great East Japan Earthquake Archive HINAGIKU. Four years after the disaster, we have growing concern over the accelerating dissipation and loss of records related to the disaster. On the other hand, increased awareness of the need to preserve and hand down the memories of those in the affected areas is driving plans for the establishment of archives and memorials. We are committed to cooperating with the affected prefectures and municipalities as we strive to enrich the contents of HINAGIKU in order to meet the high standards expected of a nationwide project.

In addition to the above issues, there are many other tasks we must tackle in response to the expectations of the public. For the medium and long term, we are exploring participation in the construction of a "national archive," which will play a significant role in preserving and promoting the use of Japan's significant cultural information resources. This year we hope to deepen our relationships and cooperation with the organizations involved, as we work steadily to resolve individual issues.

The National Diet Library Building Commission submitted to the Diet via both Houses' presiding officers on November 17, 2014, a recommendation to begin second-stage construction of facilities to house additional stacks at the NDL Kansai-kan. As a project indispensable for the progress of the NDL, we will make our best endeavor in the future development of our facilities.

Once again, I ask for your continued support and encouragement throughout the coming year.

Noritada Otaki, Librarian, National Diet Library

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