April 21, 2018

In Toyko, Librarian Retirements Don’t Bring Replacements

By LJ Staff

The graying of the library professional is an international phenomenon – and in Japan, apparently, an accelerated one. Though the labor force is declining in many industries, reports the Japan Times, the three public libraries that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government operates will see the number of librarians nearly halved in five years. The reason: budget pressures stopped the government from hiring new librarians five years ago. And in Japan, librarian Mayumi Takeuchi likens her job to that of an artisan, citing not only reference and selection but even a job that might be elsewhere that of a page. Returning books to the shelves, she says, helps familiarize staff with materials. The materials budget for the three libraries has been more than halved in a decade. Still, while the metropolitan libraries have declined, the number of libraries run by municipalities – which may not have trained libraries – has tripled to 390 in some 30 years.