Libworld – Japan

From Malawi we are jumping to Japan, the next stop of our Libworld tour. This issue is a cooperation of two bibliobloggers. Sho Sato, an undergraduate LIS student of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Tsukuba, wrote the main article. He is known in the Japanese biblioblogosphere as min2-fly. His blog is wonderfully named “Do Snails Dream of Electronic Library?”. The second contributor is known as katz3. He wrote the introductory part of this article. More details about their blogs can be found in the article.

Biblioblogs in Japan

There are so many Japanese biblioblogs that I asked for the cooperation of anyone to help writing the article in my blog. Many bibliobloggers in Japan sent me comments and trackbacks, and Katz3, one of the Japanese bibliobloggers, offered to write Introduction. I’d like to thank all cooperators.

From time out of mind, Japanese like to write diary. The internet is certainly public. It may be out of your knowledge, but many Japanese have published their diaries on the internet before blog tools became common in Japan. Japanese authors write everyday matters, and Japanese readers take reading them for granted.

For almost all Japanese, personal websites are a place of daily conversation, not for discussion. Although blogs have been used for discussion or other purposes, even today blogs have been used as a useful diary writing tool in Japan.

When early Japanese bloggers began to use blog tools, numerous diary websites had already existed. Those diary websites certainly had neither functions of trackback nor commenting, but authors used linking by HTML and BBS. Not just a few Japanese learned HTML only to write a diary.

It is not clear how many diary websites by librarians, library users and library scientists (bibliodiaries?) existed before blogs. As far as I remember, there are not so many. If this impression is correct, I could say that blog-tools loosed the tongue of Japanese people concerned about library!


The first Japanese biblioblogger was Koichi Ojiro who is an academic librarian. He published blog named 学術出版と学術コミュニケーションブロッグ (“Gakujutsu Shuppan to Gakujutsu Communication Blog, Scholarly Publishing and Scholarly Communication Blog”) in 2001 and reported news of scholarly publication, communication and library. (Unfortunately, the blog went down about six months ago.)

From 2003 to 2004 the dissemination of blog tools and services led some people to start new biblioblogs or to switch from HTML site to blog.

Liblog JAPAN is a blog about news of Library and Information Science. It was started by Shinji Mine, who was a graduate student of Keio University in 2003, based on his friends’ idea. Updating stopped, but we can find past articles at the Internet Archive. Mine is now publishing the blog Open Access Japan and provides trends of Open Access. Another two people who are related to the Liblog JAPAN team has looked back at that time in another blog.

Similarly, Copy & Copyright Diary was established in 2003. The blogger is called Tsuneo Suehiro. He has written mainly news or essays about copyright, and sometimes writes about the relation of libraries and copyrights. Tsuneo Suehiro is leading biblioblogger in the field of copyright, and his comments on other biblioblogs are also important.

Early biblioblogs in Japan were almost academic and they were for LIS researchers or academic librarians. Their authors were also researchers or academic librarians. But since 2004, some librarians (including those of public and school libraries) have established diary blogs and they write about library topics with their daily logs. Many of them blogged anonymously and used a handle. It has been a custom of continuing up to the present time (e.g I (min2-fly) and katz3 don’t use our real name when we write blogs).

Moreover, in 2003 Yokoshibahikari Public Library and in 2004 the YAMANAKAKO Library for the People’s Creativity established their official blogs. They were not for librarians but patrons. Official biblioblogs like these have been increasing today in Japan. And recently, as will later be described in detail, some people have established biblioblogs not for news or diary but mainly for discussion (You know it’s ordinary blog, but it’s in a minority in Japan).

Some exemplary blogs for library patrons

  • Public Library
    • 横芝光町立図書館ブログ (“Yokoshibahikari Choritsu Toshokan Blog, Yokoshibahikari Public Library Blog”) is the most famous public library blog in Japan. The library was nominated for “Library of the Year 2007” in Japan because of its excellent services through Internet. The blog provides bibliography of books in the book review columns of newspapers everyday, and it gives some path finders.
  • Academic Library
    • From KYOTO is written by the staff of Kyoto Seika Univ. Library and Information Center. It gives information of books, music, movies, events and even bars in Kyoto for the university students.
  • For Librarians, LIS Researchers and Students

These are Library and LIS News blogs. Especially ARG and CA-P do not only give latest news but also essays and theses about libraries and information science. They are important information resources for Japanese librarians and LIS students.

Personal blogs

I introduced many institutional biblioblogs above, but the most interesting biblioblogs in Japan are personal blogs.

図書館退屈男 (Toshokan Taikutsu Otoko) is written by AFFRIC’s staff tzh. He is the leading Library 2.0 expert in Japan, and reviews library systems in the blog. The article about National Diet Library (NDL) news portal service PORTA became hot issue and led many other bloggers (not only bibliobloggers) to watch PORTA.

Myrmecoleon is another famous web 2.0 librarian. (”Myrmecoleon in Paradoxical Library. はてな新館 (hatena-annex). Using his library 2.0 tool “Library Map”, people can look where the libraries are located, which have the book he/she is searching. He is also famous because of using bibliometrics to analyze web tools, but recently he has got hooked on ニコニコ動画 and Twitter.

Katz3 (”図書館断想 (Toshokan Dansou)”) (an academic librarian and co-writer of this article) is a clever speaker and sharp debater. For example, he referred to recent Japanese biblioblogs’ discussion about Can public library charge users the charge? and said: We can fill academic interests through that discussion, but there is no other meaning. We knew that has been sentimental problem. Discussion about that issue will make nothing for us. His articles are always stimulative but logical and persuasive, so sometimes it stirs up an argument in biblioblogosphere, or calms an argument down quickly.

Tohru(”Tohru’s diary” )is also a keen speaker, and he has been writing mainly about public library. He has written how public libraries survive in the recent financial crisis.

And today, many LIS students'(graduates and undergraduates) blogs have been established.

I write my blog かたつむりは電子図書館の夢をみるか (“Katatsumuri wa Denshi Toshokan no Yume wo Miruka, Do Snails Dream of Electronic Library?”) to communicate and discuss with other students, librarians and bloggers. Before blog tools spread, it was difficult for Japanese LIS students to communicate with library practitioners. But now we actively exchange comments and are discussing with librarians through blog.

Trends of biblioblogs

Today the main usage of personal blog has been switched to discussion between bibliobloggers, with topics like:

  • Can public library charge users the charge?
  • Can we call librarians professional in Japan?
  • Why does the National Diet Library not hold some comics for adult?
  • and etc…

But sometimes, when the biblioblogs’ topics have spread to people who are not librarians or LIS students, they become a large controversy in Japanese blogosphere. For instance, the Public Libraries are really necessary? issue has occurred from a quarrel with two bloggers (one is biblioblogger and the other is not). Finally over 30 unique bloggers referred to the issue (one is most famous Japanese blogger Dan Kogai), 60 articles written in 3 weeks.

This could only happen because of the social bookmarking (SBM) service hatena-bookmark [1]Hatena Bookmark is a social bookmarking service. The users can save the specific URL as a bookmark and tag it. They are able to interact with the other users through the tags, and can leave comments … Continue reading . Many Japanese bloggers (especially bibliobloggers) use this SBM service. Hatena Bookmark recommends many bookmarked-articles as “hot entry”. Once an article becomes hot entry, it catches more and more attention.

So sometimes a biblioblog becomes hot entry, many bloggers read the articles and referred to library issues. Hatena Bookmark also has a function of showing articles which refers this article, so it’s easily possible to scan blogs that refer to one issue, and leave comments on articles. Japanese biblioblogers use a “library” tag to recommend interesting article each other, and communicate with others using bookmark comments. SBM service is as important for us as blog itself as the means of communication.


Today the growth of Japanese blogs has calmed down. But official blogs of academic abd public libraries are still increasing. Pioneering bibliobloggers are trying new communication tools like twitter, and before long Japanese biblioblogs may change greatly.

Cooperators for this article:

110kA, aliliput, copyright, DIEtrich, G.C.W, garugon, 葦岸堂 (Igandou), kmizusawa, Kousuke Tanabe, Makoto Okamoto, MIZUKI, shomotsubugyo, sinngetu, Takahiro Maruyama, Toyohiro Hasegawa, tzh, tan-taka-tan & my supervisor, Hiroshi Itsumura.

The list of Japanese Biblioblogs

Here you can find a comprehensive list of Japanese Biblioblogs.


1 Hatena Bookmark is a social bookmarking service. The users can save the specific URL as a bookmark and tag it. They are able to interact with the other users through the tags, and can leave comments of up to 100 double-byte characters in length. Wikipedia, 2007-12-26)