Category Archives: Library Science

Criminalization of Illegal Downloading in Japan

There has been surprisingly little fanfare to welcome the new “criminalization of illegal downloading” laws that came into effect in Japan today (October 1, 2012). I thought I would share some of what I have learned about this law.

First of all, what is being criminalized is illegal downloading of copyrighted material (regardless of whether it is for personal use or not) that is obtained through public transmission. Offenders face up to two years in prison or fines of up to two million yen.

Merely watching or streaming illegally uploaded copyrighted material does not come under this law.

The illegal downloading of copyrighted material is considered an “offense prosecutable upon a complaint” (親告罪), which means that people cannot be prosecuted unless the copyright holder lodges a complaint.

The law is very clear that there has to be copying of sound or video involved, so merely watching YouTube content (even if it has been illegally uploaded) is not prosecutable. [Note from Shaney: However, I believe downloading the illegally uploaded YouTube content would fall under this law, and therefore be a criminal offense, as long as it could be proven that the person who downloaded it knew that it was copyrighted work.]

If your friend sends you an illegal copy of a file by email and you download the file, this is not a criminal offense or illegal. Downloading a file from your email is not considered “public transmission”, so it is not within the range of this law. However, if you send an email with (copyrighted) music or video to anyone other than another person in your household [not sure how this is defined], then that is “illegal in principle”.

Copying and pasting image and text files for personal use is not punishable. This law is concerned with illegal downloading of sound and video files, not image and text files.

In order to prevent this law from unnecessarily restricting people’s use of the internet, the following conditions apply.

  1. The act must have been “on purpose”. If the person does not realize that (1) it is a copyrighted work and (2) it came from a public transmission that infringes on the copyright, then the person cannot be prosecuted. [Note from Shaney: I think this just means that they can inform you of this fact the first time you are caught and if you do it again, you will be considered to have done it knowingly and on purpose.]
  2. A person cannot be sued unless there has been a specific complaint lodged against his/her acts.
  3. The government and claimants must consider ways to ensure that the application of this law doesn’t unnecessarily restrict people’s use of the internet.
  4. Claimants must issue warnings first before they attempt to sue an infringer.

Please note that my above interpretations are based on my reading of the source files below. Please “read at your own risk” and double check before you base any legal decision on them, as I could very well have made a mistake or misinterpreted meanings!




More info:



An Overview of Young Adult Services in Japan

I am currently taking a course on library services for young adults in which I was asked to write a report on something to do with young adult services. Because I am living in Japan, I thought it would be interesting to do my report on the state of young adult services in Japan. I have copied it below and it is also available in PDF.

In 1978, a young librarian named Yuji Handa, who had three years’ experience at Tokyo’s Koto Ward Library, was asked to write an article about young adult (YA) services for Japan’s The Library World journal (Handa, 1999a). At that time, Handa had noticed that there was a gap in services for young adults, but he was not particularly deeply involved in providing such services. Through the process of writing the article, Handa was able to learn a great deal about the subject, became passionate about it, and made it his life’s work to develop and promote YA services in Japan.

There had been some stirrings of young adult services in Japan before the Second World War, but the momentum had not been continued after the war, so there was little evidence of such services by the time Handa wrote his 1978 article (Handa, 1999b). In fact, an American librarian named Hannah Hunt gave lectures on young adult services to preservice librarians in 1951, but there does not seem to have been a resulting boom in such services as a result of her efforts (Handa, 1997).

When Handa set out to write the article, his boss gave him several articles to read to give him a basis for his thinking. The articles were all in English, but he was not a particularly skilled reader of English at the time, so he decided to look for some articles in Japanese to get him started. However, he couldn’t find any Japanese articles on the subject of YA services at the time, other than a few that proclaimed the necessity of such services, so he soldiered on through the English materials. It was through reading these articles that he came to understand that idea that public library services in the US were, at the time, made up of children’s services, young adult services, and adult services, with YA services forming its own unit (although it was sometimes linked closely to the children’s section or the adults’ section). This was also the first time that Handa encountered the term ”young adult” (he was more familiar with a word meaning ”youth” in Japanese, which has a broader meaning than ”young adult” and can include people much older than 18). As a librarian, he was shocked to discover such a rich area of service provision about which he was previously almost completely unaware. However, his shock was temporarily mollified when he read a contemporary book by Margaret Marshall (1975) that indicated that British libraries were nowhere near providing the same level of service as American libraries in this regard at the time.

In the 1975 book by Marshall, there were two top ten lists – one of books popular with adults, and one for young adults (Handa, 1999a). Handa noticed that while there were Japanese translations for all of the adult books, there were only two books on the YA list that he was familiar with, namely The Pigman by Paul Zindel (which is called ”April, Sophomore Year” in Japanese) and Owl Service by Alan Garner (”Owl Patterned Plate”). Furthermore, in his library, one of these books was shelved in the adult collection (Pigman) and the other in the children’s collection (Owl). In essence, YA did not really exist in Japan at the time as either a library service (except, perhaps, at a few forward-thinking libraries), or as a genre of literature.

Since he couldn’t find any studies that had been done on YA services in Japan at the time, he decided to do a small-scale study of his own library (Handa, 1999a). He found that while there was a large number of 12 to 18 year olds registered at the library, their borrowing rates were lower than the rest of the population (based on a one-week survey). While people at the time were fond of saying ”young people just don’t read anymore”, Handa realized that the problem wasn’t that young people didn’t read or didn’t come to libraries anymore, but that libraries were not adequately providing services targeted to this specific group. In particular, he believed that libraries needed to think of young adults as part of their adult clientele rather than child clientele. By moving books that young adults are likely to read out of the children’s section and giving them space in the adult section, the problem of young adults no longer wanting to come to the library (where they were forced to mingle with toddlers) could be solved, at least in part. The problem was not with the young adults, but with the library, and the solution was within the library’s reach. He discovered that Osaka Central Library had placed its ”young adult corner” in the adult section rather than the children’s section, so he decided to go and have a look at it. He noticed that just moving the shelves from one part of the library to another did, in fact, make a difference.

Next, Handa turned his attention to YA materials (Handa, 1999a). He noticed that in the US, the new YA genre was being carved out with ”junior novels” and ”teen problem books”, whereas that had yet to happen in the UK, where similar books were still classified as children’s literature. Japan was even further behind, with a lack of these English books being translated into Japanese, and even when they were, they were not being marketed as books for teens. In fact, there were two series of Japanese ”junior novels” being marketed at the time (by Akimoto Shobou and Shueisha publishers), but they had recently been turned into paperbacks (known as ”tankobon” in Japanese) and libraries were not interested in including paperbacks in their collections at the time, so these books were generally not even considered for acquisition by most libraries.

In a later essay that Handa wrote in 1997, he was still lamenting the state of young adult services in Japan. He concluded that there were (at least) five problems that were getting in the way of the development of this area of library service: (1) there was no agreement in Japan about what to call this section of the library; (2) librarians did not have a good conceptual understanding of what young adult services entailed; (3) there was a debate about whether there should be a separate space/collection for young adults; (4) the image of young adult services was not well-defined; and (5) there was no proof of the effectiveness of young
adult services/collections.

Unfortunately, Handa passed away quite suddenly in 1998. It is clear, however, that the concept of young adult services was starting to gain a bit of momentum by that time. Two broad national studies have been done on young adult services in public libraries by the Japan Library Association: one in 1993 and one in 2003. By comparing the results of these two studies, it can be seen that a great deal of progress was made over those ten years, and hopefully, there will be an even bigger gap in evidence if a third study is done in 2013.

In the 1993 study (Japan Library Association, 1993), of the 1792 public libraries that responded, it was found that 460 (25.7%) offered young adult services in some way, while 1332 (74.3%) did not. In the 2003 study (Japan Library Association, 2003), of the total number of 2530 responding libraries, 1031 (40.8%) now offered YA services, while 1499 (59.2%) did not. In addition, while 79.8% of responding libraries that did have a YA collection did not have a separate space for the YA collection in 1993, by 2003 that number had decreased to 31.9%. Furthermore, only 27.3% of libraries had put a staff member specifically in charge of the YA section in 1993, but by 2003, this had increased to 51.2%. However, it should be noted that very few libraries indicated in either study that they had librarians who were in charge of the YA collection on a full-time basis. In 1993, 0.6% of responding libraries had a dedicated YA librarian, and by 2003, that number had only increased to 1.8%. (Libraries often do not have dedicated staff for any sections in Japan. The philosophy is that all staff should be able to work in any section, which is an admirable goal, but the lack of specialization does have a deleterious effect on the quality of service that libraries can provide, in my opinion.)

In both studies, the top three reasons for not offering YA services were:

  • Lack of space (74.6% in 1993, 30.9% in 2003)
  • Lack of human resources (55.7%, 25.4%)
  • Lack of budget (42.3%, 22.1%)

In addition to these three, Handa gave the following reasons for the lack of widespread adoption of YA services in Japan.

  • Lack of professional staff assigned only to YA
  • Libraries haven’t thought deeply about their contribution to solving teen problems
  • Libraries don’t think of themselves as educational entities
  • The staff may not understand teens, or may not try to understand them
  • There is not a long history of YA services in Japan, so there is a lack of examples to follow and a lack of professional knowhow in the library community.

In a more recent article, Yasuyo Inoue (2010) indicates that some libraries are starting to lead the way towards a more robust offering of services to young adults. She notes that YA book selection is improving, there are more volunteer opportunities available to young adults, and some libraries are starting to offer space on their websites dedicated to their YA clientele. Also, while the majority of libraries still do not have a separate section for a YA collection, Inoue believes that few libraries in Japan could be said to have no YA materials at all.

In a special edition of The Library Journal (Japan Library Association, 2009) dedicated to young adult services (the existence of which is, in itself, a good indication that YA services are gaining ground), three libraries are spotlighted as exemplary models of young adults services in Japanese libraries.

Toyonaka City Senri Library in Osaka is a public library with a very high rate of usage by the local residents, with around 2000 books being lent out each day, and closer to 3000 on weekends (Furumori and Hakui, 2009). This library, which was established in 1978, started to offer YA services fairly early in its history. In addition to its collection, it offers lectures by YA authors, discussion groups, collaboration with local schools, meetings with teacher librarians at local schools, volunteer programs for teens, internships for teens, and YA newsletters (with the support of YA members), including book reviews. (Library website:

Hiroshima Prefectural Library has a volunteer program, teen internships, book reviews written by young adults displayed in the YA section, posters made by young adults recommending various books displayed in schools, a newsletter with contributions from young adults, and a YA page on their website (Masai, 2009). (Library website:

Kajiki High School Library in Kagoshima is located in a bright, open space, and features light background music to the eternal surprise of new students (Iwashita, 2009). Older students give new students an ”adventure tour” of the library and library volunteers are put in charge of selecting a portion of the books for the library. New arrivals are announced on a bulletin board and in newsletters in order to help students understand that the library is continually changing and to offer them a reason to visit. They also offer a book point card (one point per book borrowed), original book covers, and library totebags. Furthermore, once a school term, the library hosts an event called ”Joy of Books” where the students, parents, and teachers are given a chance to use the library as a space to showcase their skills (e.g. music performances). (Library website:

If Yuji Handa was correct and the progress of YA services in Japan was being impeded due to a lack of good examples to follow, there are now at least three libraries that are ready to lead the way in this regard, and they presumably have skilled librarians who might be engaged as librarian educators in the future. From the dark days of YA services in the late 1970s, there have been obvious signs of progress in Japan, but it is clear that we have yet to see YA services reach their true potential in this country. It may also be said, however, that some libraries are heading in the right direction.

Furumori, M. and Hakui, Y. (2009). Young adult services in Toyonaka City Senri Library [in Japanese]. The Library Journal, 103(8):513–515.

Handa, Y. (1997). The current state of young adult services and programming [in Japanese]. In Current State of and Future Issues in Children’s and Young Adult Services, pages 170–205. Japan Society of Library and Information Science.

Handa, Y. (1999a). A personal history of young adult services [in Japanese]. In An Introduction to Young Adult Services. Kyoiku Shiryo Shuppankai.

Handa, Y. (1999b). Youth services and materials in public libraries [in Japanese]. In An Introduction to Young Adult Services. Kyoiku Shiryo Shuppankai. (Originally published in 1980.)

Inoue, Y. (2010). Children and young adult services [in Japanese]. The Library World, 61(5):469–475.

Iwashita, Y. (2009). A day in the life of a young adult services librarian in Japan [in Japanese]. The Library Journal, 103(8):518–519.

Japan Library Association (1993). Young Adult Services in Public Libraries: Survey Report [in Japanese]. Japan Library Association.

Japan Library Association (2003). Young Adult Services in Public Libraries: Survey Report [in Japanese]. Japan Library Association.

Japan Library Association (2009). The new century of YA services. The Library Journal, 103(8).

Margaret Marshall (1975). Libraries and Literature for Teenagers. Andre Deutsch, London. (I wasn’t able to read this book. It was mentioned in Handa 1999a.)

Masai, S. (2009). Support for soon-to-be adults: Young adult services in Hiroshima Prefectural Library [in Japanese]. The Library Journal, 103(8):516–517.

Library Catalogues, Subscription Databases, Internet

What will you find in each of the following sources, and when it is appropriate to use each: library catalogue, subscription databases, the internet?

Library Catalogue Subscription Databases WWW
What can be found?

Library catalogues contain a listing of the collection of a particular library, or in some cases, a network of libraries. In particular, the library collection will likely include paper and digital resources on a wide range of topics.

Subscription databases can include (1) abstracts or full-text documents from articles that have been printed in journals, (2) articles that have appeared in newspapers and other forms of popular media, (3) other specialized information such as patents.

The internet contains an infinite range of materials: written articles, music, videos, social media sites, games, etc.
When to use?

Probably the main use of this resource is when a user would like to find out if a particular book is in a library’s collection. It can also be used to find out if the library has resources on a particular topic or fiction books on a general theme.

Information obtained from subscription databases is often, but not always, of a high enough quality to be trusted for academic work or research. Subscription databases are generally too difficult for school-aged children to use, but university students and other adults should use resources like this when doing research.

The information that is found on the world wide web is completely unregulated, so it is important for users to understand that and to check the source of any information that is found here. The web is a good place to START a search, but if the end goal is to have an accurate and reliable product, users should supplement what they find here with information derived from more reliable sources, such as academic journals or books that have been issued from a reliable source.

Search Engines vs. Subject Directories: How to Search the Net

Here is a table describing the pros and cons and appropriate uses for search engines and subject directories on the Internet.

Search Engines Subject Directories
Pros – fast
– usually more up-to-date than directories due to crawling and automated indexing algorithms
– millions of hits, so the chance of finding something relevant and up-to-date is high (as long as you have the patience to slog through all the results when you are looking for something a bit obscure)
– can handle complex queries involving more than one subject at a time
– selected and vetted by humans (usually), so quality of results is sometimes higher than with search engines
– good when you are looking for a broad range of information on a particular (single-issue) topic
– the ones that are done by volunteers often don’t include advertising
– usually don’t attempt to rank sites, so a minor site with good information can be found in the same place as a major site with good information
– results tend to be limited to a few pages rather than millions of hits so it is possible for the user to check each link if necessary
– can sometimes include sites that search engines miss or don’t rank highly
Cons – not all search engines are unbiased — some may give preference to sites that pay to be placed at the top of search results or pay for advertising in general
– usually include advertising
– ranking is based on algorithms, but algorithms sometimes miss out on sites with good content
– hard to maintain, so they get out of date quickly
– not as useful for finding information involving several topics/issues at once (e.g. thyroid disease AND diabetes in Asian women over 60)
– sometimes you have to go down through several directory trees to get to the subject you are looking for (slow)
Appropriate Uses – good place to start a search
– definitely the best choice when you need a quick answer to a question and the authority of the site or reliability of the data is not your primary concern
– better for cases where the most recent information is necessary
– good place to start a search
– good way to get a broad overview of a subject
– probably better than search engines for certain subjects, or information on particular geographical areas

Computer Use in Libraries in Japan

Historical background on technological implementations in public libraries in Japan

The Situation in 1998

A survey done by the Japanese Ministry of Education in August 1998 (1) found that computers could be found in 98.3% of prefectural libraries (average of 27 per library), in 90.4% of city libraries (10.7), and 77.5% of libraries in towns and villages (3.9). However the vast majority of these computers were being used by the library staff and were not available for public use. The computers were being used for managing circulation, acquisitions, and organizing and searching the collection. The majority of prefectural libraries had collections that could be searched by OPAC, but some were still using CD-ROMs. For city libraries, the trend was reversed with most of them still using CD-ROMs.

The computers that were available to the public were mainly being used to search the OPAC. In libraries in towns and villages at this time, there was not even an average of one computer available to users. On average, 3.5% of public libraries provided users with access to computers that were connected to the internet.
The number of libraries that provided access to subscription databases was still very low at this time. A very limited number of libraries that offered subscription databases charged patrons for this service.

At that time, 21.7% of prefectural libraries, 4.7% of city libraries and 0.5% of libraries in towns and villages maintained websites where users could search their collections online.

In order to keep up with the changes in library services, 56.6% of prefectural libraries, 31% of city libraries, and 18.3% of libraries in towns and villages provided some form of professional development for their librarians.

To summarize, libraries at this time had started to make technical advances, but there were still many that were not using online technologies as a part of their services.

The Situation in 2002

A report by the National Association of Public Libraries (NAPL) published in March 2002 (2) found that 80% of public libraries had some sort of computer system in place. The NAPL report mentions another report published by the Japan Library Association which found that 55% of public libraries had computers in 1993 and 70% had them by 1999, so some progress had been made by this point.

However, while the average number of computers in public libraries in Japan by 2002 was 13.7 (across all kinds of public libraries), the majority, or 9.4 to be precise, were still being used by the staff. In 1993, public libraries had an average of 10 computers, with 8.5 being used by staff and in 1999, there were 13.4 computers and 10 of them were being used by staff. So it seems that by 2002, a very small gain had been made in the average number of computers per library and a small drop was made in the average number that were being used by staff. However, it should be said that these numbers are somewhat misleading because the average prefectural library had around 26 computers, while the average municipal library had somewhere between around 5 and 10. Putting all libraries together into one average distorts the data.

In 2002, 10% of public libraries did not have a computer for patrons to use to search the libraries’ OPAC. However, 79.9% had between 1 and 10 computers available for searching the OPAC from within the library. Furthermore, 22% of libraries had no computers available for patron uses other than searching the OPAC. Another 22% only had 1 computer available to patrons, while another 16.2% had only 2.

It can be seen that public libraries in Japan had still not embraced the internet at this time. Only 73.9% of libraries were connected to the internet in 2002. However, the 2000 report of the Japan Library Association stated that the figure for 1999 was around 30%, so this is actually a large increase in a short time. Of the libraries that had some way to connect to the internet, 43.4% had only 1 staff computer that could connect to the internet and 65% provided no patron computers that could connect to the internet.

A total of 96% of libraries that had an internet connection said that staff used it for library business on a regular basis. By this time, the internet was being used for acquisitions, organizing the collection, reference, and interlibrary loans.

Only 10 public libraries in all of Japan offered internet service to patrons who brought in their own computers. Only 89 libraries allowed users to print out content from the internet on library printers.

In terms of blocking undesirable sites and activities, 47.6% of libraries used some form of filtering software. Some libraries (58.8%) also placed the computers close to the circulations counter so users could be monitored that way. A few libraries (31%) had Terms of Use documents that restricted users’ activities.
In 2002, 37.1% of public libraries had websites, and a further 16.9% said they were in the process of making one. Again, while these figures are quite low, they represent a large increase from 1998 (13%) and 1999 (20%). Websites included user guides, newsletters, bulletin boards, statistics, links, OPACs, indexes, reservation systems for items in the collection, and in a very few cases, databases.

The Current Situation

It can be seen that while advances were being made by 2002, public libraries in Japan had still not embraced the full power of the digital age and the internet. While computers were being used by staff members, libraries were still not providing computers and internet access for their patrons. This is a problem that continues to exist today, with many libraries, even academic libraries, only allowing patrons to access OPAC terminals and blocking or severely restricting their access to all other internet websites.

How are computers used in cataloguing, acquisitions, reference work, circulation, ILL and for electronic services (ie. Websites, subscription databases)?


Librarians use cataloguing software to catalogue and classify new books. They also use the same software to correct entries and make sure there are no duplications in the database. They will also use the internet and other resources to check their cataloguing data. They will probably also belong to some mailing lists about cataloguing and use email to ask questions about tricky cataloguing issues.


Librarians use computers to order books online. They also can accept suggestions for acquisitions by email or through the library’s website.

Reference Work

Librarians use computers to access the library’s OPAC, subscription databases, and the internet to answer patron’s questions. Questions may come from people who are at the library, from people who are on the phone, or from people who email in questions or send them through the library’s website.


Librarians use computers to keep track of books that have been checked in and out. They also use them to register new users and keep track of overdue fines. Users can make reservations for books or other materials via computer.

Interlibrary Loans

Librarians and patrons can search for materials that are not in their local library via websites from other libraries, union catalogues, or the internet. Librarians use computers to arrange for interlibrary loans on behalf of patrons.

Electronic Services (Websites, subscription databases)

Librarians use computers to create their libraries’ websites and to access subscription databases. A library’s website might be an instrument for one-way broadcasting (from the library to the users) or it can be two-way (library to users, users to library), or completely interactive (library to users, users to library, users to users).

What are the competencies necessary for this type of work?

In order to work with computers, at the very least it is necessary to have an understanding of how word processing software works. It has become increasingly necessary for librarians to supplement that knowledge with an understanding of spreadsheets, databases, presentation software, and website design packages. Libraries that are seeking to implement Library 2.0 features need librarians who are also familiar with social media including blogging and Twittering, mashups, and chatting, and who also have an understanding of contemporary issues such as privacy and censorship.

How can library staff can keep their skills up-to-date?

Library staff can keep their skills up to date through various channels. Ideally, the library should offer professional development for its staff. When budgetary restraints make it difficult to hire trainers, the library staff should offer to train/mentor each other. Another way for librarians to be proactive about their professional competencies is to take courses at colleges and universities on topics such as library science, computer science, and business. Finally, and probably most importantly, librarians should keep themselves up-to-date by subscribing to and reading relevant journals, magazines, books, and instructional manuals.


  1. 図書館の情報化の必要性とその推進方策について-地域の情報化推進拠点として-(報告). 東京: 文部科学省, 1998.
  2. 公立図書館における電子図書館のサービスと課題に関する実態調査報告書. 東京: 全国公共図書館協議会, 2002.

Additional Resource