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Message from the Librarian

The National Diet Library (NDL), which opened in 1948, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. In commemoration, we have organized "Rare Books of the National Diet Library - The 60th anniversary."

NDL's collections are built up under the legal deposit system that aims to obtain publications from every part of Japan. NDL also endeavors to collect a variety of historically or culturally valuable materials at home and abroad. These unique collections, including those inherited from the former Imperial Library, have been accumulated throughout the sixty-year-old history of the NDL, and are superlative in both quality and quantity.

In particular, valuable materials from times past are designated as rare books or semi-rare books in accordance with certain criteria. These precious books are treated carefully by laying down special procedures for storage and use in order to pass them down to the coming generations. We are also making efforts to expand these collections further, focusing on bibliographically valuable materials.

Ten years ago, we held an exhibition in commemorating our fiftieth anniversary under the same title: Rare Books of the National Diet Library. Unlike the former exhibition, we have formulated three new themes: "Carrying on the Classics," "Intellectual Exchange," and "Varieties of ‘ehon’ books" for this anniversary. Seventy-seven materials have been selected on these themes. We are holding commemorative exhibitions at the Tokyo Main Library and the Kansai-kan this autumn. In addition, we have organized an online exhibition on our website for visiting the NDL through your computer.

We hope our steady effort in collecting valuable materials and digitizing them will make your visit worthwhile.

October 2008
Dr. Makoto Nagao
Librarian, National Diet Library