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2016-1-4 New Year Greetings for 2016: With deepening cooperation and dialogues

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

Best wishes for a happy New Year. On this joyous occasion, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all for your understanding and support of the National Diet Library (NDL).

The NDL and its operations are supervised by the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors, and the Committee on Rules and Administration (Subcommittee on Management of the National Diet Library). Our major responsibilities include supporting the Diet (Japanese Parliament) in its duties as well as responding to the various needs of our patrons in and outside of Japan through multilateral initiatives. Since 2004, the NDL has published its midterm vision for future growth, and we are currently working to achieve our Mission and Objectives 2012-2016 and Strategic Goals, which were formulated in the summer of 2012. This five-year vision comprises six essential objectives: (1) enhancement of support to the Diet, (2) enrichment of legal deposit and adaptation to the digital age for acquisition and preservation, (3) improvement of information access, (4) strengthening of collaboration and cooperation between related parties in and outside of Japan, (5) archives of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and (6) transparent and efficient administration. We now enter the last year of this vision, during which we will devote ourselves to fulfilling these objectives.

So let me describe for you this year's priority challenges as well as report on the activities which we have engaged in so far.

First, we aspire to further enhance the services we provide in support of the Diet. We conduct specialized research and analysis in promptly providing reliable and accurate information on a diverse range of national policy issues. We constantly strive to enhance our capacity to undertake research of specific topics at the request of Diet members and to carry out anticipatory research on emerging political issues by making good use of information on foreign legislatures and institutions. Also, we play an important role in facilitating communication between the Diet and the general public, particularly with regard to providing easy public access to information generated by the Diet. At the same time, we will continue to cooperate with parliamentary libraries and other institutions assisting the legislative process in their own countries, thereby contributing to the development of a worldwide research network. For example, for the past two years, we have taken part in the establishment of a new parliamentary library in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Our experience of providing services to the Diet has been beneficial in many ways.

Second, regarding the development of library facilities, in November 2014, the NDL Building Commission recommended to the Diet the start of second-stage construction at the Kansai-kan of facilities for housing additional stacks. Our plans calls for construction to be completed in FY2019. Meanwhile, the new annex building at the International Library of Children's Literature (ILCL) opened in September 2015, and the inauguration ceremony was held with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the House of Councillors, and other distinguished guests in attendance. Renovations of the existing building will be completed by this spring, and a new ILCL will begin operation.

As our third objective, we began the demonstration experiment on a collection of e-books and e-magazines in December 2015. This experimental system is part of our efforts to explore new means of augmenting the existing print-based legal deposit system in preserving and providing public access to the cultural heritage comprising e-books and e-magazines. Additionally, a proposal was made in December 2015 by the Council on Organization of Science and Technology Information concerning the future organization of information. This year, the NDL will formulate and put it into practice a 4th Basic Plan for the Development of Science and Technology Information.

Our fourth priority is to continue to meet the challenges of improving access to information in the digital age. Digitization of library materials is now in progress, using a supplementary budget of approximately 1 billion yen that was appropriated in FY2014. This budgetary provision is intended to reinforce emergency preparedness. Our hope is that these digitized materials will contribute to disaster prevention and mitigation measures throughout Japan. We are also seeing significant growth nationwide in the use of our Digitized Contents Transmission Service for Libraries, with the number of registered libraries steadily increasing, including all prefectural libraries in Japan. We are also working to provide additional reading opportunities for persons with print disabilities. We are implementing a trial program in cooperation with related institutions throughout Japan to convert digital images of library materials into text data. Moreover, we are implementing services that provide greater convenience for those with print disabilities, such as automatic text-to-voice screen readers.

Fifth, we continue to make progress in enriching the NDL Great East Japan Earthquake Archive HINAGIKU. While there is increased awareness of the need to preserve and hand down the memories of those in the affected areas, we are struggling to ensure that local organizations are able to manage their archives. We will strive to play a part in preserving and conveying to future generations as many of all kinds of records related to the disaster as possible, and are working hard to strengthen collaboration between HINAGIKU and local archiving activities.

We feel a greater need than ever to maintain close cooperation with other parties in undertaking the NDL's current activities. This refers not only to conventional cooperation between libraries and other institutions that provide information but also to tie-ins with every kind of government ministry and agency as well as all organizations and institutions involved in preserving cultural heritage. Although prioritizing the convenience of our patrons sometimes leads to conflicts of interest with other organizations, the NDL is committed to finding solutions to these issues by engaging in close dialogues and building a consensus with concerned parties.

This year, the NDL will devote itself to further deepening cooperation and dialogues. We are dedicated to tackle each of these issues as we work to satisfy the expectations of our society and move step by step from the present to the future.

Once again, thank you for your continued advice and support throughout the coming year.

Noritada Otaki, Librarian, National Diet Library

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