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National Diet Library, Vision 2021–2025: The Digital Shift at the National Diet Library

The Digital Shift at the National Diet Library: Seven initiatives for connecting information resources and intellectual activities

Spurred on by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, advances in information technology are transforming both our social activities and how we communicate with others online. Put plainly, our society is experiencing an ever-accelerating digital shift.
In recognition of this, the National Diet Library is now planning seven initiatives that are intended to better connect over the next five years information resources with intellectual activities under the moniker The Digital Shift at the National Diet Library. These initiatives will be part of two ongoing projects: the first, to achieve universal access to information by making a wide range of information resources available to all users; the second, to support the development of a permanent national digital information infrastructure.

Achieving universal access

1. Enhancing services that support the National Diet

NDL services that support the activities of the National Diet will be improved by utilizing a quantitatively and qualitatively enhanced digital information infrastructure and more effective search tools.

2. Increasing the volume of materials available via the Internet

The volume of digital materials available via the Internet or at local libraries will be increased by adding materials for which copyright protection has expired as well as materials which the rights owners have agreed to make available.

3. Facilitating access to materials for those with print disabilities

Reading materials for those with print disabilities will be acquired, cataloged, and made available in a variety of formats to facilitate access to information including additional support for the production of text data.

4. Providing access to information in support of individual study

Using our accumulated expertise, vast amounts of materials and information will be curated and made available to the general public, including guides to efficient research and introductions to materials about specific fields.

Developing a permanent national digital information infrastructure

5. Accelerating digitization of materials

Over the next five years, the NDL will digitize more than a million library materials to achieve our vision of making all domestic publications available in digital form. We will convert them to full-text data, making them searchable and suitable for processing with machine learning.

6. Collecting and preserving digital materials

Cooperating with authors and publishers, the NDL undertakes acquisition of commercially available e-books and e-journals under the provisions of the law. Moreover, we strive to achieve long-term preservation of digital materials by collecting digital materials of other institutions, converting media that are no longer playable into usable formats, and other initiatives.

7. Promoting the utilization of digital archives

Japan Search connects digital archives across a range of specializations in support of the creation of an environment that enables information and data to be made open and fully utilized.

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Basic Roles of the National Diet Library

In carrying out the mission prescribed for it in the preamble of the National Diet Library Law, the National Diet Library undertakes its core duty of collecting all materials and information published in Japan under the legal deposit system as well as providing services that support the activities not just of the National Diet itself but of agencies in the executive and judicial branches of government as well as of the Japanese public. In addition to these basic roles, we also now undertake the seven initiatives described above as we promote The Digital Shift at the National Diet Library.

1. Supporting the National Diet

The NDL is tasked with providing reliable research and analysis on national policy issues as well as other prompt and accurate information services that support the activities of the National Diet, which under the Japanese Constitution is the highest organ of state power. Additionally, we make information about the National Diet available to the general public via the Internet, thereby helping to connect the Diet with the people it represents.

(1) Advanced research services for Diet members

The NDL utilizes all available library materials as well as databases and other digital information resources to provide highly reliable responses to requests from Diet members for objective research and analysis. We also undertake research on national policy issues in order to facilitate the deliberation of national affairs, and we publish the results of this research for use in responding to requests for research. Other services available to Diet members include the browsing, lending, and photocopying of library materials. Utilizing our accumulated expertise in conducting research, we strive to contribute to the deliberation of national policy issues by developing advanced services that take full advantage of the information resources and technology available at the National Diet Library.

(2) Enhanced research services through strengthened external cooperation

The NDL works to enhance our research services by strengthening cooperation with universities, research facilities, and other parliamentary institutions, both in Japan and overseas, as a means of proactively acquiring a wide range of advanced academic knowledge. In particular, we undertake a wide range of research projects on basic national policy issues as well as policies related to science and technology—many of which are subject to legal, social, and ethical challenges—and examine these issues from a comprehensive and advanced perspective available through the expertise of outside experts. We also make the results of these studies openly available to the public.

(3) Facilitating public access to information generated by the Diet

The NDL works to provide both Diet members and the general public with easy access to information generated by the National Diet, including a Full-Text Database System for the Minutes of the Diet as well as an Index and Database of Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills. These resources are enhanced with content and functionality developed by the NDL as part of our role in helping to connect the Diet with the people it represents.

2. Acquiring, cataloging, and preserving materials and information

As the sole national library of Japan, we acquire, catalog, and preserve both printed and digital materials from Japan and around the world to ensure their future availability.

(1) Acquiring materials

We acquire a wide range of domestic publications through the legal deposit system. We further acquire foreign publications considered useful in supporting the Diet as well as those containing the results of academic research and other materials on Japan. We also actively seek to acquire domestic publications that were either not submitted when originally published or that were published prior to the start of the legal deposit system.
Accordingly, we also acquire the websites of national agencies, municipal governments, and other public institutions, as required stipulated in the National Diet Library Law, including institutions involved in the recording historical events or which are otherwise of public importance, with the permission of their webmasters. We also collect e-books and e-magazines that are made available free of charge and without Digital Rights Management.

(2) Cataloging materials and compiling bibliographic information

We compile databases of bibliographic information for domestically published books and magazines, such as the Japanese Periodicals Index, which are made available to the public via the Internet.

(3) Preserving materials

We preserve and ensure future access for library materials, which are the shared cultural heritage of the nation. To this end, we undertake measures for long-term preservation, including digitization of printed materials and the management of a proper environment for preserving and repairing damaged materials.

3. Providing access to information resources

We provide reference services and other library services as well as maintain systems and facilities necessary to provide all our patrons with accurate and efficient access to the information they seek.

(1) Remote Services

-Services available via the Internet

We accept requests via the Internet for photoduplication of library materials. We also are working to digitize materials as well as make those for which copyright protection has expired available via the Internet. In addition, we make available a wide range of value-added information, such as search guides and digital exhibitions.

-Services via public and university libraries

We provide interlibrary loans as well as photoduplication and reference services. We also have a Digitized Contents Transmission Service for Libraries, through which patrons of public or university libraries are able to access digitized versions of difficult-to-obtain materials that are not ordinarily available via the Internet.

(2) On-site services for patrons

The National Diet Library offers its patrons browsing, copying, and reference services at the Tokyo Main Library, the Kansai-kan, and the International Library of Children's Literature. We also hold events such as exhibitions and lectures.

(3) Services for the staff of agencies in the executive and judicial branches of government

We lend library materials and accept requests for photocopying and reference services via National Diet Library branch libraries in many agencies of the executive and judicial branches of government. We also provide training in support of the staff working at our branch libraries.

(4) Services for persons with print or other disabilities

In cooperation with our affiliated institutions, we convert academic literature into text data or audio books, collect DAISY and braille data produced by other libraries, and provide these materials to qualified users via the Internet.

(5) Promoting children's reading activities

The International Library of Children's Literature specializes in children's literature and provides library services for children's books from both Japan and around the world. We feel that every child should have the opportunity to become familiar with books and libraries, and we support programs that promote children's reading activities through exhibitions and other events related to children's literature.

4. Cooperation with affiliated institutions

We strive to enhance our cultural infrastructure and provide public access to knowledge through cooperation with a wide range of affiliated institutions in Japan and overseas.

(1) Support for and cooperation with libraries in Japan

We provide training and information to libraries in Japan in support of their activities and human resource development, sharing our expertise in library sciences to help improve the operations and services of libraries throughout Japan.

(2) International cooperation

The NDL participates in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and other international activities, through which we interact with other national libraries and their affiliated institutions in working to solve problems that are universal to all libraries as well as promote cooperative and collaborative projects with organizations that share common goals.

(3) Comprehensive access to information resources

We employ data linkage via the Internet to provide our patrons with a variety of data-linkage platforms that access digitized materials or search guides for Japanese libraries, including integrated searchability for records on the Great East Japan Earthquake or other useful means for accessing cultural resources throughout Japan.

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Former visions

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