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National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 218, June 2018

Training Program for Librarians and Researchers for Japanese Materials at the NDL Kansai-kan in 2018


<<Five participants and NDL employees>>

Following on the success of last year's program, the National Diet Library (NDL) hosted a training program for Japanese Studies librarians and researchers living outside Japan. Five participants from countries in Asia and the EU completed the entire program, which was held at the NDL Kansai-kan in Kyoto from February 15 to 23, 2018.

In preparation for this program, each participant submitted a research topic as well as a description of their professional interests in advance, which the NDL used to tailor the program to individual needs. The NDL also arranged for the participants to meet, both at the NDL and at other institutions, with Japanese researchers having expertise directly related to their areas of interest, such as historical books and rare materials.

The participants were among forty library people who attended a special public lecture about kuzushi-ji—cursive forms of Japanese and Chinese characters—given by Prof. Yoichi Itakura of Osaka University. Responses to a questionnaire about the lecture indicated that 100% of the audience went home satisfied.

The contents of the program were as follows.
(You can check the details in this Japanese website.)

Date / Venue Content
February 15, 2018
Kansai-kan of the NDL
  • Orientation
  • Self-introduction by participants
  • User registration and guided tour
  • NDL databases
  • NDL ILL services
February 16
Kansai-kan of the NDL
  • How to research materials about Japanese humanities
  • How to research materials about the Japanese Diet and government
  • Exchange meeting
February 19
International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) Library
  • Visits to Nichibunken Library
February 20
Kansai-kan of the NDL
  • Individual research at the Kansai-kan
  • Special lecture
    "KuLA (Kuzushi-ji Learning Application)"
    Prof. Yoichi Iikura, Osaka University
February 21
Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives /
Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University
  • Visits to Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives
  • Visits to Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University
February 22
Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties /
Nara National Museum Buddhist Art Library
  • Visits to Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
  • Visits to Nara National Museum Buddhist Art Library
February 23
Ryukoku University Omiya Library /
Kansai-kan of the NDL
  • Visits to Ryukoku University Omiya Library
  • Closing ceremony / distribution of certificate

We received a very complimentary comment from Dr. Kristin Williams, a participant who is a librarian at the Cambridge University Library in England.

I was happy to be able to participate in the Training Program for Librarians and Researchers for Japanese Materials, which the National Diet Library (NDL) Kansaikan hosted in February 2018. I curate the Japanese collections at Cambridge University Library in England. I completed a PhD in Japanese literature at Harvard University, and I still research topics related to Edo-period Japanese literature and culture.

As both a librarian and a researcher, I benefited from the workshops on how to use electronic resources and research guides from NDL. It was useful to have specialists introduce electronic resources in their areas. I am sure to use NDL's 'Research Navi' in the future, and I will introduce it to scholars and students in Japanese studies at Cambridge.

What I learned about various genres of Japanese rare books and manuscripts in Kyoto will help me to build the Cambridge collections in the future. At Nara, I was amazed to see the meticulous work done by researchers to preserve and decipher texts written on wood, which were uncovered in archaeological digs around the ancient capital. They inspired me to think about the meaning of small pieces of evidence and the value of careful and thorough work.

I hope to return to either the Tokyo or the Kansai branch of NDL to use the resources again in the future.

Thank you very much for your complimentary comments about our program, Dr. Williams! We do hope that all participants found it just as edifying as Dr. Williams, and we look forward to hearing from new applicants from all over the world, who wish to learn more about Japanese studies.

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