The Generous Rules of the Nichibunken Library

WANG Zhisong (Professor, Beijing Normal University / Visiting Research Scholar)
July 15, 2021

The usage policy for the Nichibunken Library is one of a kind. Researchers at the center may borrow a maximum of 100 books at a time, with a relatively generous return period of up to six months. In addition, on days when after-hours use is permitted, registered users are able access the library with a keycard.

From the standpoint of a Visiting Research Scholar, I feel as if I am using the library, which has a collection of 600,000 books, like it was my personal library. Despite having used many libraries in Japan and overseas in the span of a nearly 30-year research career, I have never encountered a policy like this. So when I received an orientation on the use of the library from someone in charge, I was truly astonished. At the same time, I felt joy welling from the depths of my heart.

Perhaps as a result of this usage policy, I often encounter spectacular sights here that I would never see in other libraries. Many trolleys trundle back and forth, stacked with mountains of books being loaned and returned.

Admittedly, I’ve yet to make use of a trolley. Nichibunken House, where I am staying, is only about a two-minute walk from the library. When I want to look something up, I can go right to the library. And although the library was closed temporarily due to the spread of COVID-19, I have never felt personally inconvenienced in my own use of the library.

The biggest challenge for scholars engaging in Japanese Studies overseas is collecting materials. That I have been able to pursue my survey of materials smoothly even during the coronavirus pandemic is thanks to this unique and generous policy.