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Top > About Us > NDL Profile > History


the Imperial Library

The National Diet Library has two origins: one origin is the libraries of the House of Peers and the House of Representatives in the former Imperial Diet established in 1890; and the other origin is the Imperial Library established in 1872 under the Ministry of Education. As the Imperial Library was a pre-war depository library established by law, it had a comprehensive collection of materials published in modern Japan from the Meiji Era. Most of these collections were transferred to the present National Diet Library and formed the basis of the current collection.
Prior to the establishment of the modern National Diet Library, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the House of Councilors invited an U.S. library mission to Japan in 1947. Based on the advice of the U.S. library experts, a basic NDL plan was drawn up which eventually led to the National Diet Library Law. In June 1948 the National Diet Library was opened to the general public with a stock of about 100,000 books originally intended for the two Houses, using the Akasaka Detached Palace (now the Guest Palace). In 1949 another one million books stacked in the former National Library at Ueno, Tokyo (now the International Library of Children's Literature) were added to the NDL's stock.

Akasaka Main Library

In August 1961, upon completion of Phase 1 of the library construction at the current Nagata-cho site adjacent to the National Diet, the NDL started its full service as Japan's foremost library with a stock of some two million books. In 1968, the 20th anniversary year from the opening, the present NDL Main Building was erected. In 1986 the Annex was completed to accommodate a combined total of 12 million books and periodicals. As the two buildings will be full to overflowing some time in the early 21st century, a third NDL building, the Kansai-kan, was opened in October 2002 in the Kansai Science City (Seika Town, Soraku County, Kyoto Prefecture).
The former Ueno Branch Library was transformed into the International Library of Children's Literature (the first national children's library), which was partly opened in May 2000 and was fully open on May 5, 2002.
Through these and other endeavors, the NDL is making efforts to meet diversified domestic and overseas demands in the age of multimedia and information networks.

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