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National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 221, December 2018

70-anniversary Commemorative Exhibition: A Treasure Box of Books ― The 70-year History of the National Diet Library and Its Collections II


<<For the first time, a place for visitors to take a photo was provided!>>

The 70-Anniversary Commemorative Exhibition: A Treasure Box of Books―The 70-year History of the National Diet Library and Its Collections was held from October 18 to November 24 at the Tokyo Main Library and from November 30 to December 22 at the Kansai-kan of the National Diet Library (NDL).

Other commemorative events held during this period included a lecture entitled Microcosms in a book—Let's look at a scrapbook from the Edo Period, given at the Tokyo Main Library by Dr. Robert Campbell, Director of the National Institute of Japanese Literature, on October 27, as well as a lecture entitled What I Learned from Books, What the Streets Taught Me, given at the Kansai-kan by Mr. Shoichi Inoue, Professor of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, on November 10.

Following on an article in the previous issue, this article also features the content of the exhibition.

Part 1 of the exhibition, "70 Years of the National Diet Library," introduced the 70-year history of the library from 1948 with a chronological table and around 30 materials, while also referring to the Imperial Library which is one of the main predecessors of the NDL. This article presents some of those materials.


<<A draft paper on the Tokyo Library written in around 1891, "Tokyo toshokan ni kansuru iken sho," says "There is no country which has not established a national library." NDL Call No. 帝文-41.>>

In 1890, Tanaka Inagi, returned to Japan after a year and a half of study in Europe and the United States to be named Director of the Tokyo Library. Tanaka worked tirelessly to create a foundation for a national library equal to those he saw in developed countries and later became the first Director of the Imperial Library. In the document shown at the exhibition, he asserts his conviction that the Empire of Japan should establish a national library.


<<An Imperial Library single-use ticket, which cost 3 sen>>

Visitors to the Imperial Library were required to pay a fee until 1949, when it became the Ueno branch of the National Diet Library.


<<The first research material published by the Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, this report, entitled Shakaihosho eno michinori (A Road to Social Security), was issued in 1948 and is cataloged as NDL Call No. EG1-G70.>>

The Research and Legislative Reference Bureau was established in 1948 and first prepared research materials for the third session of the Diet. The report shown above is the first research paper ever distributed to Diet members. Research papers are currently published by the Research and Legislative Reference Bureau in a number of periodicals. Issue Brief is published irregularly as an anthology of concise briefs on policy issues. The Reference is a monthly magazine that contains legal analysis from a medium- to long-term perspective of policy issues and state affairs, historical studies, and comparative studies on domestic and foreign systems. Foreign Legislation is published monthly or quarterly and provides translations into Japanese of foreign laws together with explanations of the background of the legislation and concise summaries of foreign legislative activities. The Research Materials series is a monograph series that is published irregularly and features reports on interdisciplinary research and the Science and Technology Research Project. These periodicals are written in Japanese and are available on the NDL website.


<<First issue of the Nohon geppo (Legal Deposit Monthly)>>

This is the cover of the inaugural issue of the Nohon geppo (Legal Deposit Monthly), which comprises a catalogue of new materials acquired by the NDL via Japan's legal deposit system, which was established per the National Diet Library Law (Law No. 5, February 9, 1948). This first issue provides preliminary descriptions of 953 newly deposited materials as well as donated materials and musical scores, maps, and other non-book materials. This publication was renamed a number of times, including Nohon shuho (Legal Deposit Weekly) and the current Nihon zenkoku shoshi (Japanese National Bibliography), whose data is available via the NDL website.

The inaugural issue featured an elegant blue cover, but at the time was unpopular among NDL employees due to its low-quality binding and somber design, and a new design was applied to subsequent issues. Thus, the first issue is the only one with this cover—the second issue featured a new design.


<<Second issue of the Nohon geppo (Legal Deposit Monthly)>>

If you missed the event, don't worry — the digitized version of the exhibition is planning to be released in the Online Gallery of the NDL in 2019!


<<The NDL Monthly Bulletin No. 689/690, September/October 2018, which focuses on the Exhibition. The latest issues are always available via the NDL website.>>


<<Display in the exhibition>>

Column 1: National Diet Library Newsletter

<<Indo-Pacific Exchange Newsletter>>

The NDL Newsletter was preceded by the Indo-Pacific Exchange Newsletter, 15 issues of which were published from November 1958 to October 1962 with content that was very different from the current newsletter. For example, the third issue includes a note on libraries in Japan, the table of contents from the Toshokan zasshi (Library Journal) published by the Japan Library Association, new personnel assignments at various libraries, and an article written in French from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

<<NDL Newsletter>>

Renamed the NDL Newsletter in January 1963, it has been published on the NDL website since Issue No.103 in September 1997. The print format was published until 1998, but it is only published online since 1999. The NDL Newsletter from Issue No.103 on is available in the NDL Digital Collections. Books on Japan in western languages recently acquired by the National Diet Library and the CDNLAO Newsletter are derived from the NDL Newsletter.

Column 2: National Diet Library Gallery

The National Diet Library Gallery was opened in May 2017 on the first floor of the Annex Building of the Tokyo Main Library as a place to exhibit the tools, equipment, and other paraphernalia that tell the history of the NDL. On display are an old signboard, a catalogue cabinet from the Imperial Library, ownership stamps from the Tokyo Library and the Imperial Library, tools used for preservation and conservation, and panels depicting the various activities of NDL patrons and employees. We are looking forward to seeing you at the National Diet Library Gallery.

  • Left: An old signboard of the NDL, which was also part of the 70-Anniversary Commemorative Exhibition. Apparently it was used when the library commenced business at a temporary location in an office building that is part of the old Akasaka Detached Palace (now the State Guest House).
  • Right: A tool for taking books apart to rebind with a cover of heavy paper. This method is rarely used today.


<<Display at the Naional Diet Library Gallery>>


(Translated by Rie Watanabe and Yuko Kumakura)

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