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Council on East Asian Libraries Conference, Toronto 2012

Committee on Japanese Materials Meeting


Date: Thursday, March 15, 2012

Time: 9:10 am

Place: Dominion Ballroom South, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel


1)  Opening remarks and Committee Report

Setsuko Noguchi (Committee on Institutional Cooperation), CJM Chair, welcomed the audience and introduced the new members of the CJM Committee: Tomoko Bialock (University of Southern California), Eiichi Ito (Library of Congress) (in absentia), Toshie Marra (University of California, Los Angeles), Chiaki Sakai (University of Iowa), Keiko Suzuki (Yale University) and Hamish Todd (British Library).


Noguchi thanked the following retirees for their dedication and contribution to the field over the years.

Š         Kenji Niki (University of Michigan)

Š         Kenneth Tanaka (University of Maryland)

Š         Phillip A Melzer (Library of Congress)


She also paid tribute to the late Ms Miwa Kai (Colombia University) who died in December 2011.  An obituary of Ms Miwa Kai appears in the February 2012 issue of JEAL.


2)  Subcommittee and Task Force Group reports


a)  Japanese Rare Books Subcommittee


Noguchi reported on behalf of Ms Toshie Marra that the final version of the Descriptive Cataloging Guidelines for Pre-Meiji Japanese Books had been issued.


Ms Marra would be giving a presentation on the Subcommittee’s activities at the NCC Open Meeting on March 15.


Members of the Subcommittee: Toshie Marra (University of California, Los Angeles), Hideyuki Morimoto (Columbia University), Hisako Rogerson (Library of Congress), Reiko Yoshimura (Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)


b)  CTP/CJM Joint Task Force on the LC Proposal Regarding Japanese Romanization


Noguchi reported on behalf of Ms. Keiko Suzuki that the Joint Task Force had been established by the Committee on Technical Processing and the Committee on Japanese Materials to coordinate a response to the “Clarification of LC practice concerning the use of diacritical marks in Japanese Romanization” posted by Library of Congress.  A survey was conducted on eastlib and based on the results the Task Force sent to LC its recommendation for the use of apostrophe rather than alif.  A report will be published in the February 2012 issue of JEAL.  The Task Force will continue communicating with LC and conduct further research on Japanese Romanization for additional improvements


Members of the Joint Task Force: Rob Britt (University of Washington), Yoko Kudo (University of California Riverside), Mieko Mazza(Yale University), Hikaru Nakano(University of Florida), Keiko Suzuki (Yale University, Chair), Shi Deng(University of California San Diego, ex officio, CTP Chair), Setsuko Noguchi (CIC, ex officio,CJM Chair)


3)  Presentations & Panel Discussion


Lessons and Messages from The Great Tohoku Earthquake: Awareness of Preparedness for Libraries, Museums, and Archives

Moderator: Mari Nakahara (Reference Librarian, Library of Congress)


Presentation 1             Tohoku University after 3.11: Focusing on the Library and Archives

Satoshi Sonehara (Professor, Tohoku University Archives)


Sonehara began by outlining the extent of damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami at Tohoku University.

Š         Three students killed off-campus but no injuries within the Library and University grounds

Š         Building damage:

-         Extensive damage to walls/ceilings.

-         Distortion of window frames.

-         Damage to air-conditioning system

-         Damage to roof tiles led to damp/growth of mold & fungi

-         Damage to elevators made access difficult

Š         Bookshelves: many bent or broken

Š         Books: 100,000s of volumes fell from shelves (some badly damaged including rare/valuable items)

Š         Library information system and PCs: no significant damage

Š         Share file server: RAID disks broken

Š         Staff and 800 student volunteers worked to get over 560,000 volumes back on shelves by early May.


Sonehara explained that experience during the Hanshin earthquake of 1995 had taught the importance of gathering, keeping and presenting records of the disaster.  However by comparison, the 2011 event was much broader in scale and georgraphical extent, comprised a greater variety of subject matter relating to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster and involved a much larger volume of digital data.  Tohoku University is therefore actively involved with other institutions in collaborative projects such as Michinoku Shinrokuden Digital Archive ( and to collect and record as much relevant information as possible.


Presentation 2            Know-how for damaged materials and Business Continuity Program

Makoto Okamoto (Academic Resource Guide. Inc/ saveMLAK)


Okamoto began by thanking participants for their support in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami and then outlined the role of the SaveMLAK Project ( in helping museums, libraries, archives and kōminkan (community centers) collect information relating to the affects of the disaster on these institutions and publishing requests for assistance.


Okamoto stressed the importance of institutions having a Business Continuity Program (BCP) which should include all parts of the organization and prioritize their services and activities to aid rapid decision-making in the event of a major disaster.  In 2011 only 8% of Japanese organisations had a BCP, none of them public libraries.


The tsunami destroyed digital as well as analog material and during salvage operations much was lost or overlooked.  Efforts are being made to collect digital data from cameras, personal computers etc at  Okamoto explained that digital preservation and recovery is a new field and Japan could benefit from cooperation with experts overseas.


Presentation 3            Long Term Recovery of Cultural resources: USA seven years later, Japan one year later

Andrew Robb (Section Head, Special Formats Coordinator, Preservation Emergency Response Team, Conservation Division, Library of Congress)


Robb compared the catastrophes of hurricanes Karina and Rita and the failure of levees in the US in 2005 and the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011.


He highlighted two phases of recovery from major disasters:

Š         short-term (days/weeks) or stabilization: focus on life safety, building safety and collection safety,

Š         long-term (months/years) or rehabilitation: focus on repair of services, buildings and collection.

Š         “The larger the incident the longer the recovery and the longer the recovery the more uneven the recovery”.


Robb pointed out differences in the approach to cultural resources in Japan and the US. In Japan where there is a very hierarchical view with national treasures, historical material and personal property sharply distinguished and nationally designated cultural properties receiving most attention.  In the US all three categories are included in disaster planning but this has not yet happened in Japan.  Robb sees the acknowledgment of loss of national treasures as part of the process of recovery.


Three key lessons learned from Katrina/Rita are:

Š         Disasters do happen

Š         The bigger the incident the less control anyone has over it

Š         Be as prepared as you can be

Š         Do what you can, when you can, with what you have


Turning to what could be done in to improve preparedness, Robb posed the following questions based on his experience during a visit to Japan in the aftermath of the disaster:

Š         Capacity of recovery resources (e.g. freeze dryers) is limited.  Why ?

Š         Great emphasis is laid on emergency awareness for personal safety. Can this degree of preparation be applied to cultural resources ?


He concluded by saying that those outside Japan could help by continuing their positive support and by continuing to ask how people and collections are doing.  This will be vital as the recovery of collections will continue for many, many years.  International collaboration will help Japan to build its capacity in terms of recovery resources and personnel training while the US could benefit in terms of better organization especially for small disasters


Presentation 4             Strategies for disaster preparedness and recovery

Kazuko Hioki (Conservation Librarian, University of Kentucky)


Hioki described her experience in Japan following the tsunami when she spent three weeks in Osaka and Tokyo from March 14 and three months from November meeting with conservators, librarians and others to discuss recovery efforts and and also carrying out practical conservation work in Tohoku.


She found striking differences between the US and Japan in terms of disaster preparedness and response.  She emphasised that a quick response was crucial to ensure that material could be recovered and freeze-dried within three days to prevent mold developing.  In Japan the scale of the event was too great for the standard forms of disaster response.  Also the hierarchical and bureaucratic nature of many Japanese institutions made rapid decision-making difficult.


Hioki felt that although there was a large number of trained conservators in Japan and a great many willing volunteers the lack of a network made it difficult to coordinate their activities while librarians and curators do not have the experience or authority to take immediate action.  She proposed that emphasis be put on:

Š         Preventative measures

Š         Develop preservation awareness using librarians and curators where conservators are not available

Š         Planning on the scale of attainable goals

Š         Keep talking !


Panel discussion


S. Suzuki: Do the BCPs of big corporations include branches outside Japan and give guidance on how to save materials in a disaster ?

M. Okamoto: A BCP (Business Continuity Plan) deals with the company’s business priorities not salvage of materials. For example, for an internet provider the top priority might be keeping the main page running.


A. Robb: A BCP focuses on an organization’s priorities for its activities and services.  For example, at LC priorities would be readers and services to Congress.  A disaster plan, on the other hand, details what to do when a particular event happens. The BCP should be coordinated with the various disaster plans which the organization has for different scenarios.  There needs to be a cohesive, scalable set of plans that are seen as part of a continuum.


K. Yamada-McVey: Harvard has a freeze-dryer.  How common are such facilities in the US and Japan ?


A. Robb: The Freeze-dryer is a very effective system and well developed for paper-based material but not many universties and libraries in the US and Europe have them.  Instead they use commercial freeze-drying companies.  LC and NDL are both planning to purchase freeze-dryers.  In Japan salvage companies focus on providing their services to commercial enterprises rather than cultural institutions.


M. Nakahara: Many affected materials were taken to Nara University which has a large freeze-dryer.


S. Sonehara:  New legislation in Japan to be enacted in April 2012 will make it easier for academic/cultural institutions to develop facilities of this type.  Tohoku University intends to take the opportunity to acquire a freeze-dryer.


T Bazell: University of Hawaii had a serious flood in 2004.  Staff training and strong leadership in the Conservation Department meant that within 48 hours teams could be designated with specific tasks.  Who is training this sort of person in Japan ?


K. Hioki:  There are workshops for librarians and local residents on treating materials but not on planning or decision-making.


A. Robb:  In the University of Hawaii case the Head of the Conservation Department had been in post a long time and was well-respected.  In Japanese institutions staff change role every few years which makes it difficult for them to build experience and confidence.  However, the time is ripe for encouraging such training in the future.


M.Nakahara: Strong leadership is necessary and national organizations have to take a lead but individuals have to take responsibility too.  We need to continue these discussions with our counterparts in Japan.


Meeting closed at 10.40