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National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 217, April 2018

International Symposium Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the National Diet Library’s Branch Library System—Innovation and the Role of the Public Sector

An International Symposium Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the National Diet Library's Branch Library System—Innovation and the Role of the Public Sector was held on March 1, 2018, with nearly 160 people in attendance.

<<Poster of the symposium>>

The symposium kicked off with opening remarks from Sawako Hanyu, Ph.D., Librarian of the National Diet Library (NDL), followed by Mr. Hisanori Tanaka, Director General of the Administrative Department, who spoke of the aim of the symposium and provided an overview of the National Diet Library's Branch Library System, highlighting its role as a focal point of information.

After a brief introduction by Dr. Yuko Fujigaki, professor at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, who served as a moderator of the symposium, the audience listened to three lectures from guest speakers.

<<Dr. Fujigaki>>

In the first lecture, entitled "Collaborative Networks in the U.S. Innovation System," Dr. Fred Block, research professor in the Department of Sociology of the University of California, Davis, pointed out that the hub of research and development in the US has shifted over the past 30 years from the private sector to public institutes and federally-funded universities. Providing an outline of the background and the data supporting his conclusion, he described a situation in which new technology creating new potential comes from a few of successful research projects work even though most fail to produce significant results.

<<Dr. Block>>

Next, a lecture entitled "Developing and Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe," Dr. Ulrike Felt, professor of Science and Technology Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Vienna gave an overview of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) concept in Europe and the political background to the adoption of RRI by the European Union. Dr. Felt also discussed the significance of public engagement and some successful examples of policy and research while mentioning some of the challenges faced by open access and open science, both of which are core factors of RRI.

<<Dr. Felt>>

Finally, in the lecture entitled "The Politics of Innovation in Nordic Europe," Dr. Darius Ornston, assistant professor of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, focused on how Nordic countries achieved economic success in the 20th century, giving examples from several countries. After explaining the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing cooperative networks between policy makers, companies, and workers, he concluded that planning based on an understanding of the innovation scale is quite important.

<<Dr. Ornston>>

After the guest speakers, Dr. Noriyuki Yanagawa, professor at the Graduate School of Economics, University of Tokyo, commented on all three presentations and pointed out that all of three speakers shared the view that the role of the government in promoting innovation should not be limited to providing funding but should include the promotion of collaborative efforts, especially during the early phases of innovations, a passion for research could possibly provide more powerful incentives than the pursuit of the profit.

<<Dr. Yanagawa>>

During the panel discussion and a question-and-answer session, panelists gave a brief review of each other's lectures and answered a variety of questions from the audience, that address subjects such as how the building of networks is supported in the US, what roles universities should play in promoting innovation, and how a network between the public and private sectors was developed in Nordic countries.

<<Panel discussion and question and answer session>>

The symposium was a valuable opportunity to reflect on the role of the public sector in promoting innovation. Pointing out that the "public sector" includes the general public, Dr. Fujigaki summarized the social and organizational aspects of innovation and that individual citizens also need to consider how to contribute to innovation through building networks. National literacy is a lynchpin to the public's ability to select a desirable future, and thus people should not view innovation as something to be determined by someone else. The NDL, Dr. Fujigaki concluded, has a role to play in supporting literacy and promoting public participation in politics.

Many participants positively responded to a questionnaire about the symposium and over 90% of them showed overall satisfaction, commenting: "The topic was timely and informative. It would be a suitable mission for the NDL," "Very meaningful lectures providing references from different regions and countries," "It was significant that Dr. Yanagawa translated the lectures by three panelists into Japanese context."

<<Panelists, Librarian and Deputy Librarian of the NDL, and staff involved>>

We would like to express deepest thanks to the panelists who contributed to this most fruitful discussion, and to all of the people involved in producing this event.

Presentation slides used in the symposium are available on the NDL website. And a summary of the symposium is scheduled to be published on the NDL website in July.

(Written by Aiko Umeno and Yuko Kumakura)