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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 87, December 2016

Special topic: Services for children and young adults

New services of the International Library of Children’s Literature

By the International Library of Children’s Literature of the National Diet Library, Japan


1. Introduction

The new annex building of the International Library of Children’s Literature (ILCL), a branch of the National Diet Library, Japan (NDL), was completed in June 2015. Following completion of the annex, which is known as the “Arch Building,” the Researchers’ Reading Room was opened on September 17, 2015, on the second floor of the annex. After undergoing a course of renovation, on February 2, 2016, the Teens’ Research Room and Gallery of Children’s Literature were opened on the second floor of the existing building, which is known as the “Brick Building.” And later, the Children’s Library and Meet the World were opened on the first floor of the Brick Building on March 1.

The ILCL has three basic roles: (1) to serve as a library dedicated to children’s books, (2) to serve as a place where children can discover books, and (3) to serve as a museum of children’s books. In this article, we will look closely at the second of these roles as we present some of the new facilities and services available at the ILCL.

< The Arch Building, the newly completed annex of the ILCL >

< Floor plan >

2. Teens' Research Room and Research practice programs

The Teens’ Research Room on the second floor of the Brick Building comprises an area of about 200 square meters and opened in February 2016. About 10,000 books on practical knowledge, art, philosophy, science, literature, social issues, and linguistics are available to middle- and high-school students, many of whom are reluctant readers. Additionally, we provide a gateway where teenagers can enjoy researching not only through the Internet but also through paper books to answer questions about issues they confront in their daily lives as well as where they can discover information through books and encounter the great variety of ideas and knowledge accumulated by humankind throughout history.

In April 2016, we implemented a new series of research practice programs using the materials and computers available in this room. This program shows students the effective way to select and use various research tools for their research aim. For example, if they are looking for the latest information, they should consider whether to search the Internet, use databases or look up in a traditional paper dictionary. Students from throughout Japan, including those visiting the ILCL as part of school excursions, participate in these programs.

< Teens' Research Room >

What are research practice programs?

There are six research practice programs that are designed to help teens develop library research skills quickly.

  1. Problem-Solving Competition Program
    Teams of student compete in solving research problems quickly and accurately using library materials and online resources in the Teens’ Research Room.
  2. Quiz Program
    Students use library materials and online resources in the Teens’ Research Room to solve the answers to a quiz.
  3. Story Writing Program
    Students compete in writing a compelling story based on the illustrations from a picture book written in a foreign language they cannot understand.
  4. Information Literacy Program
    Students acquire information literacy through a game in which they play the roles of librarians and library patrons.
  5. Club-Activities Program
    Students acquire experience using the library to research information on familiar subjects, such as school club activities.
  6. Shelf-Talkers Program
    Students have only a short period of time to make hand-written point-of-purchase ads, also known as “shelf-talkers,” like those that are often seen in bookstores.

3. Gallery of Children's Literature and other reading rooms

In February 2016, the Gallery of Children’s Literature opened on the second floor of the Brick Building. This room features a permanent exhibition tracing the history of Japanese children’s literature from the Meiji era to the present. There are also sections that introduce the works of individual authors, works that were published in Japanese language textbooks for elementary schools, the language textbooks themselves, and documents on picture book studies. Additionally, patrons are able to access the NDL Digital Collections and digital exhibitions such as the Picture Book Gallery from computer terminals in the gallery.

< Picture Book Gallery >

This exhibition is particularly popular and allows patrons to read the exhibited books for themselves. From the time it has first opened, quite a number of patrons have enjoyed themselves in this room, especially on weekends. With the graceful and classical plasterwork decorating the ceilings and pillars, patrons seem to appreciate the comfortable room where they can relax and enjoy learning the history of Japanese children’s books. We have many visitors from abroad who become interested in Japanese picture books and children books from the Meiji era. At the moment, nearly 1,000 materials are exhibited in the Picture Book Gallery, and new books are to be added in future. We are looking forward to seeing the future steps of children books.

< Gallery of Children’s Literature >

The Researchers’ Reading Room is a special material room for researching children’s books and opened on the second floor of the Arch Building in September 2015. Newly acquired Japanese children books, picture books published outside Japan, and reference books for researching children books and children’s literature are available on open shelves. Additionally, copies of authorized text books currently used in schools in Japan and documentation for supporting reading promotion activities are available in a reference area. Small exhibitions on the NDL holdings are also held in this room.

4. Various events for children

We hold events for children to attract them to books and the benefits of reading, such as story hours and concerts.

The ILCL is located in Ueno Park, Tokyo. A number of other institutions are concentrated in Ueno Park, such as the Tokyo National Museum , the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Ueno Zoo, the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, which houses large concert halls. The ICLC focuses on holding a wide range of events for children in collaboration with these nearby cultural institutions.

For example, the ILCL takes part in the Museum Start AIUENO program, through which nine cultural facilities in Ueno Park provide support for children visiting museums for the first time.

In addition to tours of our facilities, we also distribute button badges in a museum starter pack given to people who visit the ILCL.

Last year, we had a special Museum Start AIUENO workshop, which focused on art, music, and picture books. It comprised three workshop series for groups of 20 children.
The first thing the children did was to read picture books at the ILCL. Then, after forming an idea of what kind of creature they wanted to be, they moved to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, where they made costumes of their imaginary creatures. During the second workshop, they visited the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, a concert hall in Ueno, and created music and dances to be performed in their costumes. Finally, in the third workshop, the children went to Ueno Park to perform in front of the public. They were all very shy at first, but they all performed enthusiastically. They all enjoyed exploring their creative potential through these workshops.

< Museum start pack >

We offer many other events for children. For example, in the program, “Animals at Ueno Zoo,” an NDL staff member reads a picture book in which animals appear on the scene and a zookeeper from the Ueno Zoo comes to the ILCL to talk about animals.

< Animals at Ueno Zoo >

In cooperation with the Tokyo Culture Hall at the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, we hold concerts at the ILCL for children aged three years or older. After performances by up-and-coming musicians, we introduce children's books related to music. In Japan, there are few classical music concerts in which children may attend. Therefore, our concerts are very popular.

5. Information available on the website

The ILCL makes an effort to provide a variety of information promoting children’s reading activities. Here, we introduce a digital exhibition for middle- and high-school students as well as the NDL Kids Page for elementary school kids.

A teenager's encyclopedia of the history of Japan during the late Edo and Meiji periods (in Japanese)

This exhibition in Japanese is available via the Internet and shows Japanese history during the late Edo and Meiji periods in an encyclopedia format that is designed to pique the interest of middle- and high-school students learning about the history of modern Japan. These materials utilize digitized images of historical materials and portraits held at the NDL.

< A teenager's encyclopedia of the history of Japan during the late Edo and Meiji periods >

The three main sections of the exhibition are: “Historical materials,” which contains digitized images of a draft of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan as well as four other historical documents together with explanations in easy-to-understand language; “People” contains portraits and biographical notes about 26 well-known people, like Sakamoto Ryoma, and related books; and “Topics” which contains slides on 14 historical topics, such as the Perry Expedition, together with related images and explanations. There are also sections entitled “Introduction to Historical Materials,” “Who Wrote This? Let's try handwriting analysis for a beginner! ” “Nishiki-e Gallery,” “Timeline,” and “Index.” Information is cross-linked to other related topics to help visitors expand and deepen their knowledge as they explore.

NDL Kids page

The NDL Kids page (in Japanese only) has been available since 2010 to provide children the opportunity to encounter books on the NDL website. It includes contents for understanding library tools, a step-by-step guide on how to use libraries for research, a description of one day in the life of a librarian, and a book of the month section.

The ILCL OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) for Kids (in Japanese only) is a tool for finding books in both the open and closed stacks at the ILCL. Its keyword- and topic-based search tool is designed to be an easy-to-learn means of finding books for elementary school students. Children can access OPAC through the touch screen computers in the ILCL or at home and in school via the Internet.

< NDL Kids’ page >

In addition to the above, the ILCL also offers digital exhibitions that can be enjoyed by children, their parents, and their grandparents. For example, in Japanese Children's Literature: A History from the International Library of Children's Literature Collections, we present a historical outline of Japanese children's literature since the Meiji era (1868–1912), which includes about 450 children's books. Special features provide close-ups of outstanding authors and illustrators, stories featured in Japanese-language textbooks, and original works by children's poets including lyrics of children’s songs. This exhibition is certain to help anyone learn a lot more about Japanese children’s literature. An English version is scheduled to become available in May 2017.

< Japanese Children's Literature: A history from
the International Library of Children's Literature Collections >

6. Conclusion

In addition to serving as a place where children can discover books, the ILCL plays important roles as a library dedicated to children’s books and as a museum of children’s books.

The ILCL fulfills the roles through public service, exhibitions, related lectures and events, in addition to research, training and transmission of information. Also, the ILCL will promote further programs based on Support Plan for the Promotion of Children's Reading Activities 2015 under close cooperation with related institutions.

The ILCL is committed to enhancing programs that delight both children and their caregivers under the philosophy “Children's books link the world and open up the future!”

Copyright (C) 2016 National Diet Library, Japan