Newsletter No. 58 (July 2011)

Discoveries from the Japan Specialist Workshop held in Tokyo, February 2011
A paper presented at the JSAA Biennial Conference, July  2011

Michelle Hall
Japanese Studies Librarian
The University of Melbourne

I was very honoured to be chosen to attend the Japan Specialist Workshop (日本専門家ワークショップ; Nihon Senmonka Wakushoppu) in Tokyo in February 2011. The workshop was co-hosted by the National Diet Library and International House of Japan, Tokyo, and participants were a mix of researchers and librarians from all over the world.

Some details can be found online here: http://www.i-house.or.jp/en/library/pastactivities.htm  There were five early-career academics from Norway, USA, South Korea, and Switzerland, and four librarians from Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany.
Participants met with the head of the National Diet Library.

Classes at the NDL focussed on social studies, legal resources, economics resources, and we each completed our own research projects, which included fieldwork at libraries around Tokyo and a seminar at the end, to present our findings
There was considerable desk learning weighted in favour of print resources. 1107_hall_2
A scene from the classroom at the National Diet Library.

My individual research project was “Resources in Japan for Taiwan Studies”. I undertook this primarily to support the newly established Taiwan Studies Group at Melbourne, and I concentrated on electronic resources accessible from Australia and forming connections with librarians in Japan who specialise in this area.
Presenting our findings at an open seminar held at International House in Tokyo.

Electronic Resources at the National Diet Library
My paper should be read together with that by Ms Chie Emslie a full report on the Workshop. Here, I am concentrating on electronic resources.  I also would like to direct readers to the paper by Mr Okamoto of the National Diet Library, whose paper on NDL digitisation projects complements mine. NDL-OPAC http://opac.ndl.go.jp
We are all familiar with the NDL OPAC and the links to Zasshi Kiji Sakuin (雑誌記事索引) and others. I am sure we all begin our research and preparations using this valuable resource.  Other electronic offerings from the NDL are:

Research Navi  http://rnavi.ndl.go.jp
Research Navi is a gateway to library research, with guides/pathfinders/assistance to get the researcher started.  You can start by looking for books (“Hon o sagasu”) and follow the links to the items held in the NDL (“Kokuritsu kokkai toshokan ni aru ka sagasu”), ie. NDL OPAC, books written in Asian languages, books published after 1868 as well as books and illustrations from earliest times, and searching for items held in other libraries. You can also browse through the “Hon no shurui kara sagasu”, where there are links to magazines, newspapers, statistics, children’s books, etc.
There is also a useful hints section for searching (“shiraberu hinto”), at the top of which are links to current top stories/resources such as information about the post-earthquake reconstruction, environmental information, and so on, as well as links by research area: sciences, economics, law, arts.

PORTA: National Diet Library Digital Archive Portal  http://porta.ndl.go.jp
PORTA is an portal site which allows searching of digital archives, tables and indexes, websites and reference materials across Japan.  The searches are performed over an array of archives owned by national, public and private organisations as well as the NDL.  While a federated (or cross) search can be performed on most databases, some links are updated infrequently and the native interface must be searched for full results.  PORTA currently targets 185 databases altogether. Some of the databases linked to includes:

  • A Database of Edo Merchants and Artisans (National Museum of Japanese History)
  • Aozora Bunko
  • Archaeological Spatial Analysis by Geographic Information System (GIS). of International Research Center for Japanese Studies
  • Database of Research Thesis in Japanese Literature (National Institute of Japanese Literature)

This link http://porta.ndl.go.jp/wiki_en/Wiki.jsp?page=ListOfSearchTargetArchives shows the full list of databases accessible.

Dnavi: Database Navigation Service  http://dnavi.ndl.go.jp
This has many similarities to PORTA, and is an access point to many other databases – ie, “a database of databases”.  Searches can be made using simple keywords or browsing through subjects such as history, arts, literature, and so on.

WARP: Web Archiving Project    http://warp.da.ndl.go.jp
This is very similar to the PANDORA web archive at the National Library of Australia. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/about.html
Once again, searches may be performed by simple keywords, but browsing subject areas, and also by date.  At present there is a large focus on collecting and archiving websites about the Eastern Japan Earthquake and the aftermath, and there is considerable international collaboration in preserving the websites in many countries, for example:
Archive-It http://www.archive-it.org/public/collection.html?id=2438
This collection depicts the events surrounding the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan starting March 11 2011. Content includes blogs, social commentary, television and online news sites and aid organizations, with WEBSITES in both English and Japanese. Websites have also been contributed by Japan's National Diet Library, the Library of Congress, and Harvard's Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.

Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters http://www.jdarchive.org  based at Harvard University
The Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters project is part of a growing effort to record and archive the communications after, and responses to, the disaster. We welcome recommendations of materials for inclusion in the archive.
1107_hall_8 Digital Library from the Meiji

Era   http://kindai.ndl.go.jp
A digital archive of over 570,000 volumes (of which approximately 240,000 volumes are already internet-available) of books from the Meiji, Taisho and early Showa eras.  Searches can be made by keyword or by NDC (Nihon Decimal Classification).

Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR)   www.jacar.go.jp
This database is not a product of the National Diet Library but of the National Archives of Japan, specifically the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records, the Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Library of the National Institute for Defense Studies of the Ministry of Defense.
This site provides access to official documents of the Japanese Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Army and Navy. In an effort to share history as it has been documented, JACAR's archives showcase the original records, including full images of the documents, all in digitized form.
There is a very comprehensive English language guide to using the website and materials, including suggestions on how to cite the items appropriately

This is very much a “tip of the iceberg” review of electronic materials, and I recommend everyone examine each database for themselves in order to promote their use within their user groups.  I attended a similar workshop in 1999 and the call then from participants was “more online materials!” The NDL has answered this call beyond the dreams of anyone a decade ago.
The Japan Specialist Workshop will be held once again in 2012. Please see the links below for more detail:

Michelle Hall

Remark: Images in this article are provided by the author.




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