Friday, September 11, 2009

The biggest library in Japan

DVC00022The National Diet Library of Japan, located in Nagatacho (永田著), Tokyo, is the biggest library in Japan. It is located extremely close to the Diet, the Japanese assembly, so a visit to the library ensures catching a glimpse of the Diet, together with a level of security uncharacteristic of Japan – roughly 1 policeman per couple of square feet…

The library itself, not terribly imposing or even impressive from outside, is home to every single publication ever made in Japan (yes this includes all manga publications as well ;)). Furthermore, they have a very very impressive international collection which I tested by borrowing a 1887 copy of “Huckleberry Finn”. The services offered by the library are pretty impressive – not only you can borrow books from these extensive collections, and get copies made for certain parts, but you can even request copies of sections through the web, to be mailed to your address. A quick point of information though – this is not your typical library so “borrow” just means “borrow to read inside the library”. You cannot take any materials outside which I guess explains why it was so easy to get my hands on a book published in 1887 so easily in my hands.

If you live in Japan, becoming a member of this library and paying it a visit at least once should definitely be something on your to-do list. However, make sure you check out the procedure and the needed documents online at the website I linked above.

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